The news that a venerated teacher has been murdered and a lama is missing sends an unlikely band of outcasts into the remote northern reaches of the Tibetan plateau. Two old Tibetans travel to restore the spiritual balance disturbed by violent death. A sullen resistance fighter races to battle a new foe. But Shan Tao Yun, former Beijing investigator and newly released from four years of prison camp, sets out to find justice. In the dangerous borderlands of western China, however, justice is elusive. Vengeful officials, soldiers, secret Buddhists and the remnants of the proud Muslim clans all stand in the way of Shan's pursuit of a serial killer whose terrible motives lie buried in the Tibetan struggle.