A brain-damaged Hopi holds the key to a fortune in diamonds, and even bigger stakes, in this treasure hunt.
When he died nearly 50 years ago in a plane crash over the Grand Canyon, John Clarke had a case of diamonds chained to his left wrist and a pregnant fiancée waiting at the altar. Now, good-natured Billy Tuve has tried to pawn what looks like one of the Clarke diamonds for $20. Amid the usual jurisdictional scuffles among the Navajo Count Police, the Navajo Tribal Police, and the FBI, Billy’s placed under arrest for robbing and killing the diamond’s latest owner, Shorty McGinnis, who turns out to be very much alive. As retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn and active Sgt. Jim Chee of the NTP (The Sinister Pig, 2003, etc.) sort out Billy’s and Shorty’s wild tales of how they acquired the diamonds, it becomes clear that three separate parties will be converging on the floor of the Grand Canyon. Chee and his own fiancée, Bernadette Manuelito, want to confirm Billy’s story; Joanna Craig wants to find her father’s missing left arm, whose DNA can prove she’s his rightful heir; and skip tracer Bradford Chandler, acting on behalf of John Clarke’s crooked executor Dan Plymale, wants to make sure she doesn’t. Adventures ensue.
No mystery this time, but considerable suspense in the race to bottom of one of the most spectacular and treacherous landscapes Hillerman’s ever explored.