Buzzards Bay. November 1980. The commercial fishing vessel Padre Pio motors back to New Bedford with a haul of marijuana after a nighttime rendezvous with a drug freighter. Below deck hard-luck fisherman Duchand wakes before dawn. João, the ship’s devout Cape Verdean owner and captain, is missing, “gone over.” Duchand’s fellow crew members are not talking. And two men from the freighter are back on board wielding AK-47s. One of them is Berg, amateur theologian, absolute sociopath, and Duchand’s childhood friend. Missing for decades, Berg has resurfaced as liaison for suppliers seeking retail outlets along the East Coast. He’s frantic to find João’s rumored “ledger”— an illustrated chronicle of illegal activity along New Bedford’s seedy waterfront—and he’s wrongly convinced Duchand, for whom Joao has served surrogate father and spiritual guide, knows where it is. Duchand jumps ship. Armed now with João’s antique 9mm, a vial of amphetamines, and two sets of ancient rosaries, he plunges headlong into the moribund precincts of 1980s New Bedford in search of João’s ledger, a landscape of doomed informants, well-armed parish priests, and terminally ill saints-in-waiting—a journey that will lead to revelation and bloody apotheosis back out at sea.