Summoned to South Carolina to fill in for a negligent colleague, Tempe is stuck teaching a lackluster archaeology field school in the ruins of a Native American burial ground on the Charleston shore. But when Tempe stumbles upon a fresh skeleton among the ancient bones, her old friend Emma Rousseau, the local coroner, persuades her to stay on and help with the investigation. When Emma reveals a disturbing secret, it becomes more important than ever for Tempe to help her friend close the case. The body count begins to climb. An unidentified man is found hanging from a tree deep in the woods. Another corpse shows up in a barrel. There are mysterious nicks on bones in several bodies, and signs of strangulation. Tempe follows the trail to a free street clinic with a belligerent staff, a suspicious doctor, and a donor who is a charismatic televangelist. Clues abound in the most unlikely places as Tempe uses her unique knowledge and skills to build her case, even as the local sheriff remains dubious and her own life is threatened.