In the remote Brazilian town of Cascatas do Pontal, where landless peasants are confronting the owners of vast estates, the the bishop arrives by helicopter to consecrate a new church and is assassinated. Mario Silva, Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters of the Federal Police of Brazil, is dispatched to the interior to find the killer. The Pope himself has called Brazil's president; the pressure is on Silva to perform. Assisted by his nephew, Hector Costa, also a federal policeman, Silva must battle the state police and a corrupt judiciary as well as criminals who prey on street kids, the warring factions of the Landless League, the big landowners and the Church itself, in order to solve the initial murder and killings that follow. Justice is hard to come by. An old priest, a secret liberation theologist, finally metes it out.