As a child, the brilliant mathematical prodigy Hugh Greene's two major influences were his eccentric old uncles, Nick and Sam. From Uncle Nick, Hugh learned a love of mathematics, which came to represent clarity and order, and from Uncle Sam he acquired an overwhelming fear of violence. Now seventeen and unsure of what to do with his life and whether life is even worth bothering with at all, Hugh finds his hatred of violence becoming even more intense when he witnesses a gang of brutal thugs beating an innocent man. Determined to protect himself, he purchases a gun and joins a pistol club. But when he becomes involved with a senseless shooting and gets mixed up with a group of criminals, including a sex murderer, Hugh will be forced to confront the question of whether his mathematics and philosophy have any relevance in a world of violence. . . .