When a soldier's remains are found in the Catholic cemetery of Thanh Lay Hamlet outside of the rechristened Ho Chi Minh City, a reluctant Vietnamese government agrees to the repatriation of the body believed to be Master Sergeant Jimmy Lee Tenkiller. Tenkiller was a Native American soldier who went missing in the chaos of Saigon during the summer of 1970. For fourteen years, his designation was AWOL, until the Status Review Board voted 2-1 to change it to KIA.
Before the case can be closed, Dr. Kel McKelvey and his team at the Central Identification Lab must positively identify the body believed to be Jimmy Tenkiller. The skull's noble features suggest the sergeant's proud Choctaw-Cherokee heritage, but Kel's instincts give him pause. Using a combination of cutting-edge forensic technique and old fashioned anthropology, he sets out to unravel the chilling mystery of the body's identity. What he finds leads him deep into the Vietnamese wartime black market and into the haunted mind of Jimmy Tenkiller.
Assisting Kel on the case is his colleague and friend, Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Edward Lafayette "Shuck" Deveroux of the Army's Criminal Investigative Division. Shuck has been assigned to solve a series of brutal murders on military bases in Kentucky and Tennessee, and he reluctantly adds Kel's identification to his caseload. But when the two investigators team up, they soon realize that all of their dead men may be telling the same tale.
Dr. Kel McKelvey has devoted his life to bringing closure to the families of brave men and women who died fighting for their country. In KIA, he faces his greatest challenge yet -- to solve a chain of crimes committed bydesperate men in times of war and peace. The result is a mesmerizing thriller -- an intricate forensics case involving a fallen United States serviceman, from an author who is an expert in the field.