Intrepid young curator-turned-private eye Jenna Murphy—whom readers first met in A Head in Cambodia—goes to the tourist town of Ubud to study early twentieth century Balinese painting. But her first discovery when she arrives in Indonesia is the speared body of expat artist Flip Hendricks. She soon is working with an old friend, a detective for the Ubud police force, to seek the killer. Jenna suspects the motive for the killing has to do with Flip’s paintings.
Wayang kulit, or shadow puppetry, connects a mythic past to the present through public ritual performance and is one of most important performance traditions in Bali. The dalang, or puppeteer, is revered in Balinese society as a teacher and spiritual leader. Recently, women have begun to study and perform in this traditionally male role, an innovation that has triggered resistance and controversy.