Veteran Northern California game warden Norman Bettis and his wife, Martha, lived an idyllic life in the small Sacramento Valley farm town of Gridley. On the morning of December 13, 1956, Norman kissed Martha on the forehead and drove off to work. He had no way of knowing he was destined to stumble into a rat’s nest of commercial duck poachers and disappear–patrol car and all.
Three years later, a gifted eleven-year-old named Henry Glance confronts two goose poachers near the Southern California town of Temecula, preventing them from leaving before game warden Ned McCullough arrives. Impressed with the brave young man and his compassion for wildlife, McCullough suggests he become a game warden when he grows up. He also shares the story of Warden Bettis’s strange disappearance.
McCullough’s mournful tale leaves a lasting impression on Henry as he grows up, suffers disappointment, works his way through Chico State College, falls hopelessly in love, and eventually becomes a game warden himself. Unexpectedly, he’s assigned to Warden Bettis’s old patrol district.
While conducting a number of classic wildlife investigations and honing his skills, Glance remains obsessed with his predecessor’s untimely demise. Unfazed by a mountain of obstacles and determined to succeed where so many others had failed, Henry sets out on an adventure-filled quest to find the missing game warden and solve the thirteen-year-old mystery of his disappearance.