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 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.
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