Art history professor Sweeney St. George is in the middle of putting together an exhibit on her specialty, "the art of death," for the university museum when she makes an unusual discovery: A valuable piece of Egyptian funerary jewelry that should be in the museum's collection seems to be missing. Searching for answers, Sweeney learns that a student intern at the museum was the last person to check out the piece, a young woman who died of an apparent suicide soon after she handled the piece, more than twenty-five years ago.
Going on with the exhibition without the intricately beaded Egyptian collar, Sweeney can't let it drop altogether. Nor can she forget the student, Karen Philips, who died just a few months after working with the piece. A little digging shows that Karen was working at the museum the night it was robbed, that same year, and Sweeney becomes even more curious. But her interest in mysteries past pales when a present-day murder brings Sweeney and her colleagues at the museum under the Cambridge Police Department spotlight in the person of Detective Tim Quinn, whom Sweeney has worked with before.
In the latest installment in this rich and fascinating series, Sweeney and Tim go after a killer, trying to resolve questions both immediate and decades-old before it's too late.