An ambitious, uneven Mormon family novel, set in 1915 Alberta, Canada, which strains for effects and manages to both surprise and disappoint at the close. The mFsterious disappearance of the father, Alma Roseman, just after his 77th birthday celebration, alarms son Jared, only 20, more than the other, older children of Alma's other wife. Mercenary stepbrother Lyman takes over the business, but Jared pursues the missing man, fueled by a cryptic allusion in a letter long withheld from him. He leaves home to confront his own mother, abandoned thirteen years before in Utah (Alma feared she would divulge his secret), but the visit raises more questions: how was his father involved in the long-ago massacre at Mountain Meadows--when Mormons turned on a Missouri emigrants' wagon train and murdered all but the young children. Jared's mother is vague, his uncle evasive, a now-grown eyewitness bitter, and the overwritten scenery doesn't help: ""The breeze dipped, the hum of crickets faded, the sun was like an orange floating motionless in the great pool of the sky."" Jared returns to Alberta, stumbles into the homestead of enigmatic neighbor Hickory Jack, then drops his search and clings to Jack's daughter Kelly. Although the actual disposition of Alma, when revealed, has some unforeseen elements, his murderer has been close all along, and, as he and Jared ride off into the dawn, reconciled after a too-timely intervention, one can almost hear the Tabernacle Choir. Pioneers who speak of going underground and being depressed, and a story that falters when it tries to fly.