In Tony Hillerman's mystery novel Dance Hall of the Dead, two boys, Ernesto Cata and George Bowlegs, go missing, and Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is called in to assist in the investigation. George's younger brother tells Leaphorn that the boys had been at an archaeological site headed by Professor Chester Reynolds. Ernesto, the boy says, stole artifacts. Leaphorn also knows that Ernesto had been getting ready to participate in a Zuni religious ceremony.
Ernesto's beheaded body is discovered, but George remains missing. Leaphorn searches for George and finds evidence that the boy is still alive. As he researches, investigates, and reflects on the situation, Leaphorn figures out what is going on and who has killed Ernesto. He hurries to try to save George, but he is too late. Professor Reynolds gets to George first, murdering him like he killed Ernesto. Reynolds has been committing fraud at the dig site, lying about his findings to try to support his pet theories. Ernesto and George had found out about Reynolds's activities, and the professor kills them to prevent them from exposing him.
Leaphorn, however, does not pursue the murderer. He follows him as far as the Zuni religious ceremony where he watches as members of the Zuni tribe grab Reynolds and pull him inside the building. Leaphorn leaves the Zuni to judge and punish Reynolds, figuring that they will exact justice in their own manner.