Prominent rancher, Kyle Johnsrud disappears. Weeks of intensive search by Sheriff Sam Turner, family, friends and volunteers fails to uncover either man or body.
A group of extreme environmentalists threaten more terror if ranchers fail to vacate the timbered rangelands of Western Montana.
Fred Larson, a specter from the past, returns to Meadow Creek. Kyle’s body is found. and Andy kicks Fred from his ranch. Angry, Fred turns on his divorced wife Sarah, takes vengeance on Andy and someone plants a dynamite charge.
Discouraged with his seeming inability to solve the mystery, Sam turns to long-time friend (perhaps lover) Carolyn Freemont; for her great ability to listen, and her wise advise.
One small piece at a time, the clues accumulate. Just as a prime suspect is coming to light, someone shoots him and the plot goes into overdrive. There is a hospital escape, a recalled favor from Vietnam, an encounter with a grizzly bear and a high-speed chase (horseback) over the mountains. Finally, there is a type of peace, as Kyle’s murderer finds justice, Fred is given an ultimatum, and the young Johnsruds take a long, second look at their marriage.