2014 год. Dr Temperance Brennan and her students are working on a site of prehistoric graves on an island near Charleston, South Carolina, when a decomposing body is uncovered in a shallow grave off a lonely beach. The bone is fresh and the remains are still topped by wisps of hair – it’s a recent burial, and a case Tempe must take. Tempe determines that the deceased is a middle-aged white male - but who was he? Why was he buried in a clandestine grave? And what does an unusual vertical fracture of one of the vertebrae signify? While Tempe is trying to piece together the evidence, her personal life is thrown into turmoil. But before long, another body is discovered - and Tempe finds herself drawn deeper into a shocking investigation which will challenge her entire view of humanity.