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The main character is Joe Leaphorn, a Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant trying to solve a case concerning a missing boy.
George Bowlegs is the missing boy, who, although he does not actually appear in the book, is the object of the mystery.
Dr. Chester Reynolds is an archaeologist and murderer.
Suzanne is a member of the Golden Fleece commune who helps Leaphorn.
Ted Isaacs is a young archaeologist under Reynolds who has a lot of decisions to make concerning his identity and loyalties.
Father Ingles is a Catholic priest who helps Leaphorn with information about Bowlegs and Zuni traditions.
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