An Englishman and his family arrive to spend the summer with some friends in a small seaside town on the Italian Riviera. But the idyllic surroundings mask terrible secrets. Bobby, depressed with his life, thinks of himself as a serial failure and his wife Paula fears for his sanity. Vincent on the other hand is rich and successful, seemingly with everything he"s ever wanted but his wife Barbara has terrible dark thoughts about where he goes at night especially after the discovery of two girls" mutilated bodies in the town. The arrival of an odd Swiss family adds intrigue to their summer. What is Thierry Vallons relationship with the young beautiful Anna? Does she work for the family or is she his lover? Does Vivienne his wife suspect or does her blindness shield her from the truth? And why does Thierry lock their retarded son up in the remote villa at night? In a moment of madness one hot afternoon at some isolated rocks Bobby finds himself alone with Anna and after a sexual encounter recklessly kills her. When Bobby returns to the rocks later that day it seems someone else has disposed of her dead body.
The enormity of what he has done momentarily changes his perspective on his life in a perversely positive way. But then influenced by Vincent he begins to doubt whether it ever happened until events lead him to suspect Vincent himself of greater involvement in the girl"s disappearance and this uncovers a past that Vincent has up to now kept hidden. Bobby finds himself drawn to the rocks again and again and the sinister truth they conceal. He finds himself caught up a world of sexual depravity, relentless cruelty and murder all set against a backdrop of the beautiful Ligurian coastline, dazzling light and children"s laughter. Tragic events peel back the thin veneer of normality in two English families" lives revealing their fragile grasp on reality and an unpleasant underbelly that is rarely exposed.