Amanda Doucette searches desperately for the connection between bones discovered in a remote Alberta coulee and an uncle who went missing thirty years ago.
Photographer Todd Ellison is engrossed in a photo shoot deep in Alberta’s dinosaur country when he stumbles upon human bones buried in the sand of a remote coulee. Not far away, while driving through the Alberta prairie, Amanda Doucette glimpses an abandoned farmhouse that reminds her of an old photograph hanging on her aunt’s wall.
Who is the cocky young cowboy in the photo? Could it be connected to Amanda’s uncle, who went missing in Alberta thirty years ago? As Amanda starts to make connections between his disappearance and the body in the coulee, she discovers more questions than answers. To make matters worse, a mysterious person will stop at nothing to get her to abandon the investigation.
The starkly beautiful badlands of the province of Alberta, Canada, home to one of the world's richest collections of dinosaur bones, provide the backdrop for Arthur Ellis Award winner Fradkin's atmospheric fourth Amanda Doucette mystery (after 2018's Prisoners of Hope). While photographer Todd Ellison is scouting for images for his local history book, Ghosts of the Ancient Dead, he stumbles on what he at first believes to be a dinosaur bone, only to make the disturbing discovery that it's of human origin. Amanda, the dynamic and resourceful founder of a cross-Canada charity "that offers a glimpse of hope and inspiration to families and youth in need," begins to suspect that Todd's find may be connected to her uncle, Jonathan Lewis, who disappeared in the area some 30 years earlier. As Amanda probes Jonathan's life, she becomes immersed in a mire of deceit. Fradkin keeps readers guessing about the deceased's identity as each new possibility opens up a new set of motives and suspects, and the eloquently described landscape is a visceral part of the plot. Fans of regional mysteries will find much to like.