Handsome, convivial construction worker Ed Whitekiller, living on the outskirts of Tahlequah, Okla., is out of work and has just concluded his latest extramarital affair when he's found by Maggie, his 14-year-old daughter, in their garage--dead of carbon-monoxide poisoning. Dot, Ed's uptight wife, and Sheriff Dave Highsmith agree that it looks like suicide, but Maggie refuses to believe it and seeks help from Molly Bearpaw, investigator for the Native American Advocacy League (The Redbird's Cry, 1994, etc.). Sure enough, the autopsy reveals a blow to the back of the victim's head, and the seven black stones on the seat next to Ed's body raise more questions. Retracing Ed's last days brings Molly to the construction site of a new bingo parlor going up next to the forlorn shack owned by aged Zeb Smoke--a fiercely independent defender of old Cherokee traditions whose constant outdoor rituals protesting the bingo parlor make the workers uneasy. When one of them is murdered--and seven stones are found on the seat in his truck--Zeb's in trouble. But Molly comes to his rescue, in the process also coming close to meeting her maker as the puzzle pieces fall clumsily into place. While the chilly disharmonies of failing marriages get sensitive treatment here, the rough-hewn, undermotivated murder plot fares less well.