Elizabeth Lange had left New Mexico six years ago, when her father died, and gone to live in New York. She had left behind her everything she had loved her happy childhood, the ranch, her Indian friend Santi. Her life in New York was commonplace, and she was not unhappy, but after her disenchantment with Jim Cutter, the man she had hoped to marry, she knew that she had erected a protective shell around her so that nothing would ever hurt her again.
It was then that she received an urgent summons from her uncle in New Mexico, begging her to come and look after him during his illness. Years ago her uncle had dabbled in land deals and squandered the family's money, but now he promised to repay Elizabeth for her rightful share. And Elizabeth, believing and not believing him, went.
Her arrival at her uncle's Inn of the Clowns dismayed her. The place was in poor condition and had obviously not seen any guests in a very long time. She learned that her uncle planned to sell the inn to land developers who hoped to turn the entire area, including the Indian pueblo of Zacate, into an impressive tourist attraction. And the nearby Cordero Indian ruins would boost tourist interest, her uncle was convinced.
But before the sale could be completed, Elizabeth's uncle died, and she found herself alone at the Inn of the Clowns, but soon to become the target of a dangerous and willful assailant."