In 1963, in a Siberian prison, former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkhanov has mastered what it takes to survive. But one day, Valery's university mentor sweeps him from the frozen camp to a mysterious city. It houses nuclear reactors, and surrounding it is a forest so damaged it looks like the trees have rusted from within. In City 40, Valery is expected to serve out his prison term studying the effect of radiation on animals. But Valery is struck by the questions his research raises. Why is there so much radiation in this area? What is being hidden from the thousands who live in the town? And if he keeps looking for answers, will he live to serve out his sentence?