When a John Doe with a bayonet wound in his chest is discovered in a Washington, D.C. alley, geneticist Dr. Alexandra Blake of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology is pulled away from her bioterrorism work to aid in the investigation. Just a little digging reveals a corpse that's not at all that of the homeless robbery victim it was set up to resemble---and Alex and her colleagues find themselves wrapped up in a complicated mystery of high-stakes international financial intrigue.
The homicide investigation is just heating up when a political firestorm erupts over the AFIP's possession of human skulls brought back from Vietnam thirty years earlier by American servicemen. Alex is handed the delicate task of managing the restoration and return of these grisly souvenirs. Even the President of the United States has become involved, with the actual exchange scheduled to take place at a White House ceremony. Alex knows it's an important job---her father was a soldier killed in Vietnam, so she of all people is sensitive to the issues surrounding the war---but to her it still seems like an outsized uproar over something that happened long ago. But the skulls take on much more urgent significance when she uncovers evidence of a much bigger crime, and suddenly Alex discovers she's a target and the White House itself is under fire.
The Silent Assassin is a tour-de-force thriller combining the intricate details of forensic science with the dark side of Washington politics and one of the freshest and most original characters in crime fiction today.