Driftless Summer takes place in Southwest Wisconsin, a beautiful area of steep hills and trout streams. The killers live a few hills away from Crane Maddoxâ€™s cabin where he and his brother-in-law go to golf and bike.
Crane is an art teacher trying to get a sculpture business going. He would love to acquire another nice property in the area. Gerhard is his brother-in-law.
Ray Olsen lives on a nearby farm and has recently lost his mother, so is alone now. He has a hobby of stone carving and has done some nice projects.
Ray eventually meets Al Bumen, a teacher on medical leave with the promise of a job when he seeks treatment. Al hears voices, voices that tell him to kill.
At first the chapters alternate between Crane and Gerhard and Ray, and later, Al joins the story.