A rather distended novel with certain elegiac pretensions (lift up thine eyes unto the title and lower them to the publisher presentation -- ""lyrical, evocative"") and had author Stookey, a lawyer, abandoned attempts at myth and poetry and told his story straight -- all would have benefited. In alternating insets a crime and some too closely connected characters are gradually affiliated: Merlin Carson who has retired to a canyon to live as ""a universe unto himself""; his son, Peter (whose birth was arranged between Merlin and his older brother whose desire to perpetuate the lineage was not matched by his puissance); his wife Clarissa -- after her husband/his brother dies -- now cavalierly abandoned; and an artist whom Peter is defending on an appeal who had murdered his Chinese prostitute-mistress with some justification -- the mistress who had later tried to appropriate Merlin. . . . One's sympathies are never really enlisted for anyone around and Clarissa -- given to phrases like ""deliciously naughty"" or ""frothy hours"" -- doesn't seem to belong in a modern novel.