Tim Boerhave (probably an allusion to the famous eighteenth-century Dutch scholar Herman Boerhaave) is a professor in philosophy. One day he watches a dog coming out of the water with a can of sardines tied to his neck. The can of sardines explodes. Tim survives but loses both his legs. After the initial shock he retreats to a secluded place on a small island in the northern part of the country, trying to figure out who could have done this.