Retired Leaphorn, from the Navajo Tribal Police Headquarters, gathers with some of his cohorts to discuss diamonds that have been surfacing for years. Some fifty years ago there was a mid-air collision of airlines over Grand Canyon. The canyon floor was littered with dead and body parts. One victim had an atache case handcuffed to his wrist full of diamonds. His body was never found, but rumor had it that the severed arm with the case was seen in the river but not retrieved. Joanna Craig was the illegitimate daughter of the diamond czar and wanted the arm for DNA analysis to prove her rightful heir to her grandfathers fortune. Several diamond show up in northern Arizona with the same story as how they were acquired. An Indian Shaman, Skeleton Man, gave them in trade for some personal items from passer byers at the bottom of Grand Canyon.
Plymale was the lawyer in charge Craig's fortune and did not want Joanna to get the arm for DNA results, so he hires a bounty hunter, Chandler, to keep this from happening. He had a lot to lose if the truth came out.
Sargent Chee along with his bride to be, Bernie and Dashee were preparing for a climb to the canyon floor. Tuve, one who got the diamond from the Shaman, was going to take them to the spot where he saw the Shaman. He did not show, so Bernie and Chee and Dashee headed down the trail with hopes to meet Tuve later. At the bottom, Chee and Dasheee split up to locate Tuve. Bernie stayed put to wait for Tuve, as time past Bernie went exploring. She found the canyon that Tuve described and went up to see what was there.
SPOILER: Joanna was on her way down with Tuve when she lost Tuve. She continued down and found Chandler, who got a helicopter ride down. Bernie went up the canyon and found the Shaman, who was dead for a long time, laying in the path. Further up the canyon she found the ledge he called home, the diamonds and the arm with the case were there. Joanna and Chandler were following her tracks and not far behind. They met up and found the diamonds also. Chandler was in charge and took the diamonds, Joanna took the arm bones. Suddenly there was a big rain storm that produced flash floods in the canyon, with water flowing strong through the canyon. Joanna and Bernie were able to get to the ledge where the bedding of the Shaman was and escaped the flood. Chandler was swept away. Chee was following the tracks left by Bernie and the others and when the flood arrived, he was able to get to a safe spot. Chandler's body was later found on the shore of Lake Mead, no diamonds. Joanna got her arm bones and the DNA proved she was the heir to the Craig fortune.
Hillerman has provided a great story with American Indian background. The Leaphorn legacy lives on and is ready for another adventure.