Dr Temperance Brennan spends her life working amongst the decomposed and the skeletal. So the newly-dead body she is called to examine holds little to surprise her. Until she discovers it is the body of an ex-soldier apparently killed in Vietnam in 1968. So who is buried in his grave? The case takes Tempe to the heart of the American military, where she must examine the remains of anyone with a possible connection to the drowned man. It's a harrowing task, but it pays off when she finds his dog tags amongst the bones of a long-dead soldier. As Tempe untangles the web of the soldiers' lives and deaths, she realises there are some who would rather the past stayed buried. And when she proves difficult to frighten, their focus moves to the one person she would give her life to protect.