This whimsical short novel is a story about choices, about what happens (for better or worse) when people step off the beaten path. Joshua Mansfield and Sheri Zod journey through a fantastic, allegorical American Southwest accompanied—or led—by totem animals or spirit guides. At first they both seem to be finally escaping the life of an older “career” student, but the apparently chance finding of a discarded letter initiates a quest to find out what happened to a pair of lovers, Joan and Karl, thirty years earlier—a story which increasingly resonates with Joshua and Sheri.
Along the way they meet ghosts, sad machines, baffling art, mirages, mysterious figures in a literally petrified forest, a hostel for lost souls, and a cafe for lost dreams as they search for what happened to Joan who ventured off the beaten path a generation earlier. Instead of a travel journal, Joshua writes stories in his notebook, creating interrelated allegories which are as real as the strange world they travel through. It is a journey both inward and outward as Joshua and Sheri are both in their own way “lost souls” navigating the shifting sands between odd cities in a world which is magical, futuristic, and anachronistic, but recognizable because there is an underlying truth to it. In flashbacks we see that being adrift is for both of them uniquely tied to their drive. What—if anything—can finally anchor them?
As mysterious encounters and the discovery of clues, artifacts and magical objects increase it begins to look like the universe is trying to tell them something…or perhaps Joan is…
“Gardening with intent to kill…. Ainy Rainwater’s fast-paced and witty mystery is a winner. Her Cedar Lake reminds me of Bill Crider’s delightful small-town Texas, and she handles the gardening aspects of the story with such a sure hand she made me believe in the malice plant.”
Lillian Stewart Carl, author of the Jean Fairbairn/Alasdair Cameron mystery
After Ivy Willowby dies in her garden with a Malice Plant in her hand, Rosemary Wilde is stunned to find she’s the beneficiary of Ivy’s will—if she outlives the survivorship clause. With potential heirs buzzing around like angry bees, burglaries, and unexpected liaisons, the Cedar Lake Garden club isn’t lacking either dirt or manure. But who—or what—killed Ivy? When Rosemary decides to test the “curse” of the Malice Plant, she finds there’s more than enough malice to go around.
Lisa Lightner fled social work for the relative quiet of a bookstore. A safe haven from violence. But the publication of a horror novel which unleashes an Evil on the world threatens not only her peace of mind, but society itself. When her glamorous sister announces that she’s been hired to write the screenplay, and her best friend joins the Christian Resistance to destroy Miasma, Lisa is caught between fanatical extremes, trying to survive an apocalypse with her humanity intact.
In The Hands Of Time
When Jason Chenault lands at the remote spaceport of Zan, his only concern is finding a replacement crewman for his two-person ship and getting his next mapping assignment. But his quiet, lonely life is about to change. A religious fanatic from Earth has been killed. If that news were not disquieting enough, Jason’s new crew, Sien, is a visionary who spends too much time in disturbing visions. They’re ill-suited companions on a very small ship—and the ship becomes even smaller when they pick up the McGraths, a family from Earth. Do Sien’s violent visions hold the key to what’s happening on Zan? Or are they connected to the overbearing McGraths and their enigmatic daughter, Claire? How much power do they all have to change the universe around them—or the landscape of their own lives? What Jason and Sien discover on the anything-but-routine mapping assignment, they—and their uneasy allies on Zan—must piece together before time runs out.
IN THE HANDS OF TIME is the story of a clash between cultures and human values, between age and youth, between business and humanity. In the end, what is each person’s responsibility to another?