Baritone Bay, mid-afternoon. A couple, naked, married almost thirty years, are lying murdered in the dunes.
"Their bodies had expired, but anyone could tell--just look at them--that Joseph and Celice were still devoted. For while his hand was touching her, curved round her shin, the couple seemed to have achieved that peace the world denies, a period of grace, defying even murder. Anyone who found them there, so wickedly disfigured, would nevertheless be bound to see that something of their love had survived the death of cells. The corpses were surrendered to the weather and the earth, but they were still a man and wife, quietly resting; flesh on flesh; dead, but not departed yet."
Annabel Mendelssohn has an unusual but oddly satisfying life -- studying spectacled fruit bats in the rain forest of Australia. She spends her free time discovering waterfalls and e-mailing her sister, Alice, who has settled for the more domesticated science of grant administration. Although she has an unfriendly roommate and occasionally fears that loggers will disturb her bats, all seems to be going according to plan, until Annabel's mentor, the enigmatic Professor John Goode, suddenly disappears.
Haunted by the ambiguous circumstances surrounding her brother's death two years earlier, Annabel becomes obsessed with finding the professor. Meanwhile, after learning of his father's disappearance, Leon Goode leaves his teaching job in a Boston museum to join the search. In the vibrant, unpredictable rain forest, Annabel and Leon come to realize that truth reveals itself in more ways than one.
As it unmasks the secrets of the rain forest and of tangled human emotions, this deftly written and suspenseful tale casts a spell over mind and heart.