CAUTION: Plot reveled below!
From left to right: Jim Chee, Janet Pete, Joe Leaphorn and Emma Leaphorn
Joe Leaphorn, a seasoned cop accustomed to the ways of Phoenix, Santa
Fe, and Albuquerque, has returned to the Navajo reservation. Recovering
from cancer, his wife, Emma, feels rejuvenated by her home's landscape
and people. Joe is less sure about their return. Well schooled in urban
policing, he is soon confronted with a particularly Navajo case: a
mysterious killer who has a special antipathy for medicine men,
including his partner Jim Chee, an FBI Academy grad who is training to
be a traditional healer.
Roman George's body is found miles from his abandoned truck and
surrounded by ancient symbols etched in blood. A local archeologist
holds the key to the symbols he left behind, so Chee and Leaphorn pay
him a visit at a nearby Anasazi ruins. There, these unlikely partners
find further clues indicating that the murderer may be a "skinwalker," a
Navajo witch with the power to change from human to animal, move with
lightning speed, and to kill with curses. Fearing that his mentor,
Wilson Sam, will be next, Chee convinces the medicine man to hide in a
As Chee juggles the day-to-day police work on the reservation, Leaphorn
tracks down clues to the identity of this evasive criminal. More ancient
symbols are found at an abandoned paint factory, where a local gang has
been congregating. What do the signs mean? Who is sending these messages
in blood? Could the murders be linked to the old Dinetah Paints scandal?
Chee won't have much time to mull these questions over as he soon finds
himself in the killer's crosshairs.