Sauer's laboriously perceptive psychological portrait of a woman who must untangle her past before she can resume her career.

The narrator, who grudgingly reveals herself as Cecelia Knoll, begins by conducting a soliloquized dialogue with the reader. In order to solve a complex puzzle, she petitions readers to suspend their personal beliefs and allow the story to take "possession" of them. She delineates her quandary - successfully completing the computer-programming code she's creating - and decides her only recourse is to take a vacation. The protagonist travels to Italy and develops an obsession with Pompeian culture and history. Upon her return, Cecelia compares the Rocky Mountains of Southern Colorado to Pompeii, then begins researching the history of Colorado and her family's place within it. She attempts to flesh out sketches of historical events and uncover the truth, but the more information she compiles, the more perplexed she is by the results. Her old family letters, photos and personal memories of relatives who overcame poverty and hardship don't line up with popular recorded historical "facts." Still unable to focus on work, Cecelia recruits an old friend Justin to accompany her on a visit to her childhood home in Old La Veta Pass. She secretly hopes to unearth a peculiar ancestral book rumored to hold the key to her past. Nearing their destination, Cecelia and Justin pick up Matthew, a sensual, mysterious hitchhiker who seems oddly familiar. She and Justin stay at an enigmatic old inn, where dreams begin to seep into reality and shards of nightmares form riddles in Cecelia's mind. She is infatuated with Matthew, yet finds that the more time she spends with him, the more reality seems to shift. The first-person narrative style dabbles in both poetically symphonic imagery and didactic scholarly ramblings, and uses metaphors from both Native American folklore and Greek mythology. Despite a sluggish start and overexplained concepts that hamper the suspension of disbelief, there is depth and sensitivity here.

A nuanced look at humans' need to find meaning in creation.
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