"Chaos is coming, old son." With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As autumn descends, and families prepare to head back to the city while children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store at the center of town. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness.
No one admits to knowing the murdered man, who has kept his identity and his existence well hidden, along with an astounding legacy of cultural treasures. As secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier, whose past is unknown. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?
As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures—from first editions of Charlotte's Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word "WOE" woven in it—lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth, and then back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the final, brutal telling.