It was a summer morning in 1982 when soldiers entered the village of Chupan Ya. Twenty years later, Dr Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist, travels to Guatemala to work on one of the most heartbreaking cases of her career. Twenty three women and children are said to lie where Tempe and a team from the Guatemala Forensic Anthropology Foundation must search for remains. It’s one of five mass graves. No records were kept.Families and neighbors refer to their lost members as ‘the disappeared’.
As Tempe digs in the cold, damp pit, the soil begins to yield ash and cinders. Its colour changes from mahogany to graveyard black. Her trowed touches something hard. The bone of a child no more than two years old. Something savage happened in this village twenty years ago.
And something savage is happening today. Four girls are missing from Guatemala City, including the daughter of the Canadian Ambassador. A skeleton is found in a septic tank at the back of a run-down hotel. Only someone with Tempe’s expertise can deduce who the victim was and how they died. But her path is blocked – by the district attorney’s office.
An unexpected highway robbery as already resulted in tragedy. Warning bells begin to ring for Tempe. The corruption runs too deep to know where to turn. It appears that some people would prefer that Chupan Ya stayed burned. And others want the missing girls kept the same way…