In the Charlotte summer heat, Brennan is hoping to get away for a few days at the beach with her would-be lover, Detective Andrew Ryan. First she has to identify the skeleton of a newborn baby found in a wood stove; the baby was probably born to the missing daughter of a former work colleague. Then a small plane flies into a rock face; the occupants may have been drug running. A picnic at Cowans Ford with Brennan's daughter Katy turns sour when her estranged husband's dog Boyd discovers mixed animal and human bones in a derelict outhouse. Is the headless body found in South Carolina linked, and who is sending Brennan e-mails telling her to back-off ? More puzzling, the drug runners and the animal (bear and rare bird) bones seem to be connected in a blatant CITES violation - the market for CITES animals and parts thereof being as hot as the drug market. Brennan, helped by Ryan and Detective "Skinny" Slidell, must try and piece together these seemingly random events and discover who is behind the racket.