Thirty miles east of San Diego, in the dusty heart of the California high desert, lies the Barona Ranch Indian Reservation. This is desolate country, marked by lone pines, winding canyons, and granite hills. It is here that the boy was found, tied to a mattress in an abandoned mountain shack.
The case is assigned to Bo Bradley, a child abuse investigator with San Diego’s juvenile court system. It is meaningful job, and it pays for Bo’s few indulgences, like her books on Indian lore and the huge canvasses for her paintings, based on ancient Native American rock drawings.
Bo takes her profession seriously, and she abides by its cardinal rule; never get involved with the child-victim. This has not always been easy for a sensitive woman whose emotions ride perilously close to the surface. Now, with this four-year-old boy, it proves impossible.
He is a non-Indian who calls himself Weppo, and he has been classified as mentally impaired, making him a high risk for abuse. But something in Weppo’s intense gleaming gaze strikes a deep chord in Bo. She knows that look. In the eyes of her late, deaf sister, she has seen it before. Weppo is not at all impaired; he is deaf.
Inspired by this new knowledge, Bo sets out to interview the Paiute mystic, the woman they call “Seize the Dark,” who found the boy. Driving along pine scented trails into the Indian country she so loves, Bo feels as if a strange force is leading her onward, an intuition that builds when she meets “Seize the Dark” and the old crone confides that “spirits” led her to Weppo; “I saw the boy with blood on his mouth.”
After visiting the shack, Bo wonders, had the deaf child been tied up because there was no other way of saying “Stay here. I’ll be back”? An inner voice tells her as much. And she knows she must listen, for it also tells her that Weppo is in great danger.
A poisoned-tipped bullet soon proves the point–as two thugs break into the hospital and attempt to murder the boy. Pushed beyond the point of no return and into a dangerous manic state, Bo bends the rules and swings into action.
Risking personal involvement and professional ruin at the hands of her by-the-book supervisor, she vows to unearth the truth surrounding this child of silence. It is a mission that will take her from the ancient sands of the California desert to the gilded mansions of Houston’s political set and back, as Bo Bradley mounts a desperate struggle to save Weppo–and herself–from certain death.