Once and FBI agent, Ella Clah is now a Special Investigator with the Navajo Police. She walks a tightrope between the Navajo and white worlds, fully accepted by neither but needed by both. Ella's brother, Clifford, a hataali or medicine man, says that her investigative skills are a gift from the spirits who guard and guide the Dineh, but Ella insists it's her FBI training that has honed her instincts.
Ella's life is about to change in ways she can barely begin to imagine--she is newly pregnant, and though she knows who the father is, she will not marry him. In Navajo society, her child will be of her clan, and will be accepted by her family, no matter what--but how can she stay a police officer, exposing herself and her unborn child to terrible danger day after day?
Given her current caseload, it's hard for Ella to put off making a final decision about her career. There's a near-riot at LabKote, a factory on the Reservation that produces high-quality vessels for medical labs. The Fierce Ones, an activist group of Navajo, are insisting that more native workers be hired by the firm--including a Navajo replacement for a manager recently found dead in his car, an apparent suicide. A sniper shoots at Ella as she drives to another crime scene--the home of State Senator James Yellowhair, who has been kidnapped.
Feuding between traditionalist and modernist elements in the Navajo nation heats up with sabotage, vandalism, and murder, spurred by a rise in birth defects among the Dineh's livestock and rustling of sheep and cattle. Ella's personal concerns mount when officers investigating a break-in at the health clinic discover that the records of several pregnant women--including Ella--are missing. Then one of the pregnant women is murdered....