Former Navajo Tribal Police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn comes out of retirement to help investigate what seems to be a trading post robbery. A simpleminded kid nailed for the crime is the cousin of an old colleague of Sergeant Jim Chee. He needs help, and Chee and his fiancée, Bernie Manuelito, decide to provide it.
Proving the kid's innocence requires finding the remains of one of 172 people whose bodies were scattered among the cliffs of the Grand Canyon in an epic airline disaster fifty years in the past. That passenger had handcuffed to his wrist an attaché case filled with a fortune in diamonds -- one of which seems to have turned up in the robbery.
But with Hillerman, it can't be that simple. The daughter of the long-dead diamond dealer is also seeking his body. So is a most unpleasant fellow, willing to kill to make sure she doesn't succeed. It's a race to the finish in a thunderous monsoon to see who will survive, who will be brought to justice, and who will finally unearth the Skeleton Man.
“Considerable suspense in the race to the bottom of one of the most spectacular and treacherous landscapes Hillerman’s ever explored.”
“A fascinating whodunit and a window into a rich culture....a gem.”
“One of his strongest and most specific plots...amusingly wry dialogue...keenly observed detail.”
-Santa Fe New Mexican
“A grand mystery.”