Cameron, California, is situated in a once barren valley transformed into an oasis by the canny industry and foresight of a New England Yankee, Harry Pitt, whose family now dominates the entire life of the valley. In this lush but none too peaceful setting -- agitated as it is by the greed of the old rich and the new rich and the mischief of an organization similar to the John Birch society-- the eight-year-old daughter of migrant workers is raped and murdered. The murder has been committed by the ""ideal"" son of the valley's war hero. The boy had witnessed the rape, and overcome by his own loneliness and a warped sense of pity for the girl's plight, had put her out of her misery. Later he drowned himself and his family is left to weigh their own guilts. Others are affected. The town's hardened reporter, trying to out-race his Okie background, is able in writing about the child's death to confront his own origins and gain his manhood. Rosemary Pitt, Harry Pitt's longsuffering daughter-in-law, transported from the East as an ornament, finds the courage to return to the Catholic faith of her childhood, and in her independence, proves of some use to her effectual husband. The lives of key characters are altered to various degrees as is the very climate of the valley itself. The Lost and the Found is a carefully worked out novel, unspectacular but authentic, written with real feeling.