Tired of life and disillusioned with his work, economist Carl Simonovsky would rather stay at home tending his beloved trilliums than work on yet another aid project pretending he knows how to solve complex dilemmas faced by poor countries. When he reluctantly finds himself in Bangladesh, dealing with a case of mass arsenic poisoning caused by a well-meant aid programme, he soon discovers that ignorance of the subject is the least of his problems.
Rumours of scandal and corruption surround the international agency that hired him. When Carl meets Zafirah, the passionate leader of a local grassroots organisation and campaigner on arsenic, he realises he cannot ignore the rumours and must dig deeper. But as the two of them grow closer, it becomes clear that they are on a collision course in relation to the arsenic crisis. If their relationship is to have a future, both face painful compromises, and Carl has to make a decision that will change the course of his personal and professional life for ever.