The Pentagon brass make the designations: AWOL. MIA. KIA. Every soldier with a designation, and no man left behind. And Dr. Kel McKelvey is the man to bring those soldiers home -- from battlefields around the world.
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.
Thomas Holland is presently the Scientific Director of the Department of Defense's Central Identification Laboratory, the largest skeletal identification laboratory in the world. In this position he has led forensic recoveries around the world, from the barren deserts of Iraq to the steamy jungles of Vietnam to the snow-covered mountains of North Korea. In 1993, while conducting a recovery near the Killing Fields of Cambodia, his team came under a Khmer Rouge rocket attack and was forced to withdraw from its base camp under fire.
In the relative quiet of the Central Identification Laboratory, Holland holds the awesome responsibility for approving the identifications of all U.S. military personnel from past military conflicts. During his tenure this has included over 1000 soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War -- including the Vietnam Unknown Soldier from Arlington National Cemetery.
Holland received a bachelor's degree in fine art from the University of Missouri and a Master's degree and a Doctorate degree in anthropology from the same institution. He worked as an archaeologist and museum curator before taking a position with the Department of Defense. He is one of less than 80 Diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, a member of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, a member of the Council of Federal Forensic Laboratory Directors, and a consultant to the New York State Police. He routinely briefs high-ranking military and government officials including the secretaries of State and Defense, and has served in scientific advisory roles to the National Institute of Justice and the International Commission on Missing Persons.
Holland and his laboratory are frequently featured on such programs as Discovery, Nightline, 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, and Nova.