In the small town of South Quagmire (just north of East Quagmire), a white 16-year-old sits in the non-voters' section of the middle school auditorium, narrating a play-by-play account of America's "purest form of democracy" for his school newspaper. His comic riff on race, real estate, Vietnam, ladder trucks, arson, autism, school bullying, sex, ducks, and local politics is interrupted when the town's moderator bangs his gavel twice and drops dead of an apparent heart attack, followed quickly by the loss of the fire chief beneath ambulance tires. November, 2007. Thirty-one years later, the partial recording is unearthed by a take-no-prisoners Town Clerk who continues her late friend's account of that night and subsequent months when several people and an endangered black-bottomed newt met untimely ends resulting from a failed real estate deal to purchase two thousand acres of Little Quagmire Swamp. As the teens uncover evidence pointing to a murderer, their efforts to protect him and his decades'-old secret come at a cost.