A Zuni boy is discovered beneath the rubble on a steep hillside. George Bowlegs, his odd Navajo friend, disappears. A renowned archaeologist accuses both boys of stealing artifacts. Bowleg's alcoholic father is found dead. Lt. Leaphorn knows there is no such thing as a simple event - it is time to start making connections.
Retired Navajo policeman Joe Leaphorn joins his former partner Jim Chee in investigating the skeleton of a man found on a mountain ledge. Chee, who is also tracking cattle rustlers, follows a trail that sheds light on the fallen man and helps the two sleuths uncover the story of his tragic death.
Searching for a missing Navajo girl, Sgt. Jim Chee finds himself involved in a puzzle whose only clue is a message which seems to have no sender and no meaning. It takes him from the plains of Arizona to a curing ceremony in the dark underworld of Los Angeles, where the `cure' may well be death.
To officer Bernie Manuelito, the man on the truck seat was just another drunk - which got Bernie into trouble for mishandling a murder scene - which got Sgt. Jim Chee in trouble with the FBI - which drew ex-Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn out of retirement into an old crime he longed to forget. A tale of an obsessive love and memories of a missing woman's voice wailing in the darkness.