An archaeology scholar asks whether a mysterious death is a simple murder or a supernatural event.
Iraq war vet Harper Jennings has had her share of drama in her life, most recently a strange medical scandal with some of her students at Cornell University. Now things are more settled for Harper, especially since her husband Hank, who fell off their roof while the two were trying to fix up their house, has finally returned home after an extended stay in the hospital. Although he can now talk, Hank’s speech is inconsistent, and Harper worries that he may have stopped improving. When Harper’s colleague Zina Salim, who has never been on particularly good terms with Harper, shows up at Hank and Harper’s place ranting about a Nahual, Harper has no interest in getting involved. After all, she was passed over for the plum job Zina got at the Langston place sorting through pre-Columbian artifacts. Besides, shape-shifters like Nahuals are just folklore. The next day, however, Harper finds Zina’s body in the woods with the heart ripped from her chest, and Harper knows she must investigate the murder. It’s not clear whether Zina’s death is the work of the natural world or something beyond. Hank tries to dissuade Harper from getting involved, but she’s determined to find the truth even if it puts her in danger. With Hank growing more distant, Harper knows the only person she can rely on is herself. Or is it?
The more straightforward story line raises this entry above Summer Session (2011), though Jones sacrifices a bit of action in the process.