On a cool September day in 1971, an independent trucker with a history of legal scrapes flung open the double doors of his eighteen-wheeler and began tossing leaky drums of industrial waste onto the sandy soil of a rundown chicken farm in Toms River, New Jersey. Eight years later, a schoolteacher who lived four miles away gave birth to a boy whose cherubic smile belied the fast growing tumors that soon riddled his face and chest. The doctors predicted he would not reach his first birthday. They were wrong, but that was only one of many surprises that would eventually come to light in Toms River, culminating in 2001 with a record legal settlement believed to top $35 million and an unprecedented government study confirming the existence of a long-suspected cluster of childhood cancer linked to polluted water and air. A detective story rooted in a scientific quest thousands of years old, Toms River is a tale of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who would not keep silent.