When Charlotte police discover the body of a teenage girl along a desolate stretch of two-lane highway, Temperance Brennan fears the worst. The girl’s body shows signs of foul play. Inside her purse, police find an airline club card bearing the name of prominent local businessman John-Henry Story, who died in a horrific fire months earlier. How did Story and the girl know each other? Was she an illegal immigrant turning tricks? Was she murdered? Was he?
Tempe must also examine a bundle of Peruvian dog mummies confiscated by U.S. Customs. A Desert Storm veteran named Dominick Rockett stands accused of smuggling the objects into the country. Could there be some connection between the trafficking of antiquities and the trafficking of humans?
As the complications pile on, Tempe must also grapple with personal turmoil. Her daughter, Katy, grieving the death of her boyfriend in Afghanistan, impulsively enlists in the army. Meanwhile, Katy’s father, Pete, is growing frustrated by Tempe’s reluctance to finalize their divorce. As pressure mounts from all corners, Tempe soon finds herself at the center of a conspiracy that extends all the way from South America to Afghanistan and right to the center of Charlotte.