during an epidemic of madness, vietnam vet and chief constable tom laker protects his rural town from "berserkers," who murder until they are destroyed. on a typical day, laker and his friend josh follow a trail of hacked-up bodies that lead to an ax-swinging psycho: josh "blew away most of the berserker's chest. laker pumped another load into him, just to make sure." the death toll climbs when laker's men use guerrilla tactics to defeat the new york city "scum" who raid their catskills town for supplies. meanwhile, a townsman turned berserker single-handedly murders 30 raiders before he and laker meet in one-to-one combat for the perverse, predictably bloody finale. the attitudes underlying the gore are this book's most appalling aspect: anyone who is different is to be feared and hated; the only justice to respect is that wielded by a gunslinger; a stranger's life is worthless, so taking it means nothing.