The Gers in the South West of France is the celebrated land of D'Artagnan, and of smooth amber Armangnac.
It's a place of quiet villages, still lakes in deep forests, and fields nodding with sunflowers.
But in just the time it takes to sign a planning permit, the "duck stuffers" arrive.
As hatred seethes between foie gras producers and long ensconced residents, feuding erupts and a once peaceful hamlet unofficially becomes known as "Blanquet de Quack Quack".
Riotous behaviour walks hand in hand with greed and anger in the wake of the poisons that spill into the soil and pollute the air coupled with the cruel practice of force feeding the ducks.
A village and a whole region are set aflame as battle lines are drawn.
A farmer too lazy to work his own acreage rents it out to the duck workers who are not above bribing corrupt politicians, including an all-powerful mayor, to get their coveted licence.
But the villagers form a plucky resistance group and laugh and joke as they poke fun at stubborn official paper shufflers.
An old witch ceaselessly cavorts in the background casting spells in ever-widening circles.
Catcalls, jibes, and insults fly around the hamlet, but humour doesn't completely mask seething hatreds, tensions, and anxious fears.
The cauldron finally boils over in a calamitous chain of events that leads to a wholly unexpected conclusion.
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Also by Burt Keimach
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