An FBI agent last seen intruding on a Navajo healing ceremony goes missing.
Confiding in no one at the Bureau, inexperienced Agent Andy Thomas enters the Navajo Reservation and confronts someone participating in a sacred cleansing ritual. Only he knows who and why. When he disappears, his supervisor, Agent Simmons, must rely on tribal special investigator Ella Clah (Plant Them Deep, 2003, etc.) to find him before he falls victim to thirst or worse in the parched arroyos and abandoned mineshafts on the rez. But someone doesn’t want Ella to find Agent Thomas. Even with the help of Bruce “Teeny” Little, a former tribal cop turned p.i.; her cop cousin Justine; and her brother Clifford, a medicine man himself, it takes her the better part of two days to discover the medicine man who performed the ceremony and Melvin Rainwater, his patient. Instead of Thomas, she finds only a dismembered body with his FBI badge. A Navajo widow’s complaints about missing Social Security checks lead Ella to Rainwater’s boss, a mortuary owner, and a get-rich-quick scheme abetted by a dirty FBI honcho. Guns blaze, car suspensions crack, phones are tapped, Navajo death taboos are flagrantly disregarded, and Agent Thomas is kidnapped and used as a bargaining chip before finally being rescued.
Sluggish prose and stilted dialogue, enlivened every now and then with a really interesting nugget about Navajo customs.