Beijing, 1941: The bones of the famed 'Peking Man' are placed in two wooden crates for shipment to the United States to escape the invading Japanese army. New York City, 1970s: a mysterious woman offers to sell the bones to an unknown man on top of the Empire State Building. But when someone takes a photograph, she makes a hasty retreat. San Francisco, 1980s: A frantic stranger named Jimmy calls on noted anthropologist Ellen Christie and shares a scintillating secret with her: he has evidence of the bones in his backpack. But when she visits his Chinatown home, Jimmy must flee with the evidence. As Ellen and Jimmy's brother navigate the city's elite criminals, her dreams of academic stardom draw closer. Unfortunately, so does danger.