Semi-retired university professor David Winters and his wife and former student Melanie Winters née Lansing live on a hobby farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec with their adult son Benjamin Winters and Benjamin’s son, Timothy Winters. Their life is not totally harmonious due to David’s chronic infidelity and Melanie’s emotional instability, a result in large part of her growing up which she refuses to speak of to Benjamin, who knows nothing of his mother’s childhood directly from her. Melanie has been institutionalized many times in her life and is on medication to deal with her mental issues. Melanie’s passion in life is to follow many cases of political oppression in the world, this passion again due to her past life. In September 1985, Melanie, through this work, reconnects with Jakob Bronski who she knew during World War II when she was only a teenager when they were both interred at Drancy, a transit station outside of Paris where the government, in cooperation with the Nazis, housed Jews before they were sent to a concentration camp. An adult when they were interred, Jakob, a poet, has just been released from a Russian psychiatric hospital where he has lived for most of his life for killing a guard. Against David’s wishes, Melanie asks Jakob to come and stay with them for as long as he wants. Along with Jakob comes Christopher Lewis, who was also interred at Drancy when he was a teenager, his internment despite not being Jewish himself. The three formed a special bond during their stay at Drancy. Jakob and Christopher’s visit opens up a flood of emotions for Melanie about her past with the two people she considers the closest to blood relations and how it led to where she is today. But it also brings into light the Winters family dynamic as especially Benjamin learns more about his mother’s life.
In the Philadelphia police department, Emmett Young is a hotshot, a workaholic newly promoted to homicide. He learns he has a disease that will soon kill him painfully, so he hires a stranger to arrange his own death. With one eye on the calendar (he’s allowed a few days’ grace before his murder), he pursues a final case, the serial killing of young women. Emmett develops a profile of the assailant. Meanwhile, his fixer hires an ex-cop to kill Emmett, a lonely security guard whom the fixer taunts and belittles. In this limited time, can Emmett sort out what’s important?
Canadian lobster fisher Ford Lofton’s wife Deborah dies from a fall riding neighbor Blake Raines’s horse Twister. Ford’s eldest daughter Caroline cares nothing for horses but dates Blake’s hot-tempered son and jockey Darrow. Younger sister Virginia is obsessed with horses, especially Twister’s foal Stormy. Seeing how Stormy’s sale affects Virginia, Foird first arranges for her to become the new owners’s stable-hand, later buys it himself. Caroline breaks up with Darrow, Virginia becomes his bitter race competitor.
An examination of the malevolent London underworld with its despicable criminal underground. Ray (Mick Rossi) just finished an eight-year prison sentence after getting set up. Now he is back on the streets to settle the score.
In early 18th century Peru an old Inca rope bridge collapses, plunging five travelers to their deaths in the Andean chasm below. Brother Juniper, who was within minutes of being on the bridge himself, becomes obsessed with discovering how five people of differing class and circumstances came to be on the bridge at that moment. The Catholic friar wants to know if it was mere existential happenstance or part of God’s cosmic plan. After researching the lives of the victims for five years and publishing his findings in a book, he is accused of heresy by the worldly Archbishop of Lima and is put on trial for his life by the Inquisition.
Jindabyne, in the southeast section of New South Wales, was moved to its current site from its original site upon the building of a hydroelectric dam, the resulting reservoir, Lake Jindabyne, which now sits atop the original townsite. Among its residents are a group of friends who socialize together: married Stewart and Claire, a service station owner/former race car driver and a pharmacist respectively, and their adolescent son Tommy; married Carl and Jude, who have been guardians to their adolescent granddaughter Caylin-Calandria, Tommy’s friend and disruptive classmate, ever since her mother’s passing; Rocco and his new aborigine girlfriend, Carmel, a teacher at Tommy and Caylin-Calandria’s school; and young parents Billy and Elissa, Billy who works casually as a mechanic for Stewart. Despite Stewart and Claire loving each other, there has long been disharmony in their household. Claire left for eighteen months following Tommy’s birth due to post-partum depression. Then, Stewart’s mother moved to Jindabyne to look after Tommy, but still undermines Claire as a parent. And Claire doesn’t like Stewart’s closed emotional state, she who just wants them all to connect as human beings. As they do every year, the four men embark on a multi-day fly fishing trip to a remote section of the river. Shortly upon their arrival, Stewart discovers the dead body of a young aborigine woman in the river. What the men decide to do, or not to do, ends up receiving the wrath of general populace, but especially that of the aborigine community. It also has the potential to tear the friendship among this group, as well as Stewart and Claire’s marriage, apart. Through it all, Claire, in that want for human connection, does what she believes is the right thing, which is not always met with what is her intent.
Michael is a perpetual waster. He owes money to Perrier, a local thug. When two enforcers demand payment by nightfall, Michael does a burglary with two others but won’t be paid till morning. All he has to do is stay away from the thugs until he can get the money then give it to Perrier. But the lads catch Michael and start to deliver a beating, but Brenda, Michael’s suicidal neighbor, shoots one. Now they must run for their lives, accompanied by Jim, Michael’s estranged father who claims to be dying and has come to reconcile with his son. Will any of the trio see the sun rise? And can Michael become enlightened, become a better man?
Dennis Clegg is in his thirties and lives in a halfway house for the mentally ill in London. Dennis, nicknamed “Spider” by his mother has been institutionalized with acute schizophrenia for some 20 years. He has never truly recovered, however, and as the story progresses we vicariously experience his increasingly fragile grip on reality.