At the start of bestseller Coel's appealing 12th mystery (after 2005's Eye of the Wolf), the people of Wyoming's Wind River Reservation are devastated when an ancient petroglyph, the Drowning Man, vanishes from a wall of sacred Red Cliff Canyon. An Indian messenger tells Fr. John O'Malley, the pastor of St. Francis Mission, to inform the Shoshones and Arapahos they must pay a $250,000 ransom for the rock art, which was chiseled off the wall. Father John obliges, but also alerts the FBI. Meanwhile, attorney Vicky Holden decides to represent Travis Birdsong, who's serving time for killing his alleged partner in a glyph theft seven years earlier. Enraged locals, who believe Travis didn't get a fair trial, want Vicky's firm to concentrate on keeping a logging company from desecrating Red Cliff Canyon. Father John's conflicted feelings for Vicky, who's not sure she wants to stay with her partner, Adam Lone Eagle, and the arrival of a retired pedophile priest at the mission help keep the emotional temperature high.
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