An assassin waits for Officer Jim Chee in the desert to protect a vision of death that for thirty years has been fed by greed and washed by blood. Who would murder a dying man? Why would someone steal a box of rocks? And why would a rich man’s wife pay $3,000 to get them back? These questions haunt Sgt. Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police as he journeys into the scorching Southwest. But there, out in the Bad Country, a lone assassin waits for Chee to come seeking answers, waits ready and willing to protect a vision of death that for thirty years has been fed by greed and washed in blood.
Officer Chee attempts to solve two modern murders by deciphering the sacred clown’s ancient message to the people of the Tano pueblo. An Ancient Trust is Broken. During a Tano kachina ceremony something in the antics of the dancing koshare fills the air with tension. Moments later the clown is found brutally bludgeoned in the same manner that a reservation schoolteacher was killed just days before. In true Navajo style, Officer Jim Chee and Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Tribal Police go back to the beginning to decipher the sacred clown’s message to the people of the Tano pueblo. Amid guarded tribal secrets and crooked Indian traders, they find a trail of blood that links a runaway schoolboy, two dead bodies, and the mysterious presence of a sacred artifact.
In his quest to unravel the threads left by his brother's death in Cambodia, Thomas Reed travels to the streets of Manila and the jungles of Cambodia, where he gradually pieces together the information that will lead him to his brother's lost child.