Darrell Reeves in uncovering an ancient and mystifyingly out-of-place Indian burial site. As the delicate excavation unfolds so too does the mystery surrounding an ancient Indian king whose life - emerging bit by bit in clues - is re-created with Butler's abounding artistry.
The physicist Lloyd Coulter is on the tea developing the first atom bomb. Under J Robert Oppenheimer, he develops the lens arrangement that will focus the explosive blast and bring nuclear weaponry to the world.
Through the contrasting mysteries of their projects - and the woman they both love - they are brought into an astonishing confrontation.
This is both scientific adventure and a dramatic love story, portrayed with the narrative power for which Robert Olen Butler is well known.