The story begins when two missionaries disappear in the remote Arctic region known as the Coppermine. North West Mounted Police officer Jack Creed and Angituk, a young Copper Inuit interpreter, are sent on a year-long odyssey to investigate the fate of the lost priests. On the shores of the Arctic Ocean near the mouth of the Coppermine River, they discover their dismembered remains. Two Inuit hunters are tracked and apprehended, and the four begin an arduous journey to Edmonton, to bring the accused to justice.
Instructing the jury to "think like an Eskimo," the defence counsel sets out to prove the Inuit acted in self-defence. They hear how the hunters believed the priests were possessed by demons about to kill them, and how, acting on this belief, they killed the men and ate their livers. The jury finds them not guilty. The hunters become celebrities, a parade is held for them, they visit a movie theatre and an amusement park, and become guests of honour at socialite dinners. They are given new suits, fine cigars, and champagne. But Rome is outraged that the murderers of its martyred priests will go free. As secrets of Jack Creed's past in the trenches of Europe are revealed, Jack tries to save his two friends, and himself.