Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Book Review -- Bridge of Time by Lewis Buzbee



What if you woke from a nap to discover a familiar landmark had simply disappeared? What if you could meet yourself coming and going? What if you landed splat in another time and found yourself running for your life, and more than once? In Lewis Buzbee's latest literary mystery, Bridge of Time, a school field trip leads to a journey into the past with a surprising time traveler for a guide.

On the eve of their class trip to Fort Point, Lee Jones and Joan Lee each each learn their parents are getting a divorce. Needing a place to talk over the bad news, they sneak away from the class and hide in the lighthouse. But bad news can be exhausting, even when shared with a sympathetic best friend. They fall asleep. When they wake up and look out the lighthouse windows, the Golden Gate Bridge has vanished. And that’s not all that’s different. In the fort below, grass has replaced concrete. Soldiers are loading a real canon. Other soldiers have rifles and seem eager to use them. 
Immediately Joan and Lee crouch down to try and figure this out. Then they hear footfalls on the lighthouse stairs. The door opens. A young man dressed in black enters. His clothes are as old fashioned as those of the soldiers, and Joan and Lee can tell that, like the soldiers, he’s definitely not part of the field trip. He says his name is Sam Clemens. He says they have come “unstuck” in time, something that regularly happens to him. At present (this new present) it’s 1864. 
Thus Joan and Lee are launched into an adventure that takes them forward and backward in time through a San Francisco that keeps shifting. “Sam” is their guide, but even when he rescues them from the soldiers below (who might well shoot them for being spies), he gets them into new scrapes: Trying to get back to the lighthouse, which is a time portal, they have to elude the Kearney Street butchers, who want to take a cleaver to Sam for an article he wrote on behalf of a Chinese man they beat up. (In 1864 the white citizenry of San Francisco are bigoted against “the Chinese menace”.) And a mysterious man in black keeps pursuing them and Sam into both the future and past. (Why does Sam turn pale every time the stranger shows up?)
As in earlier mysteries, Buzbee weaves humor, history, and philosophy into his fast-paced tale. In one scene, Sam—who is actually Mark Twain—wrestles with twenty-first century slang, managing to get “dudes” and “totally awesome” right, but then adding, “I was also freaking the out.” In addition to the frightening aspects of San Francisco’s racism in 1864, there are softer brushstrokes that give the era: When Joan says she’d like to have a bath, Sam says, “Oh you children of the future. What have they done to you? Are you certain? It takes a good while to rustle up a proper bath.” (And so it does in 1864.) At the end of the book, Sam gives them a nice explanation of why the lighthouse at Fort Point is a focus for time travel. (But you’ll have to read the book to find out.) In one vivid scene the three time travelers fall into what Sam calls a “tumble”, shooting back and forth from one time to another so rapidly it could be a light show with strobe lights.
As was true of Buzbee’s two earlier literary mysteries, Bridge of Time is a book to savor and read more than once. (You can read earlier reviews of Steinbeck’s Ghost and The Haunting of Charles Dickens by clicking on the titles.)
Bridge of Time can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a more complete list of online stores can be found here.


To learn more about Lewis Buzbee and his books, visit his website.
You can also visit him on Facebook.


But tell me, if you could time travel, what literary figure would you like for your guide?



25 comments:

Rosi said...

Nice review, Mitty. This one sounds like a really fun book. Thanks for posting this.

Joanna said...

Are you back in the US? What happened about the water?

I enjoy time travel and historical fictions and think I would very much enjoy, era, plot and setting for this one!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Rosi, it's quite an intriguing book. I'm a Mark Twain fan, so I found it appealing to think of him leading two MG students through time.

Joanna, we had water the next day. What happened was that some workers had dug at the roadside to lay cables underground near our village and at one point cut the water pipe. Yes, I think you would enjoy this book very much.

Theresa Milstein said...

Sounds like an interesting time travel book. Thanks!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Theresa, it's time travel with a different twist. And imagine having Mark Twain for your guide!

Tanya Reimer said...

I got goosebumps!!! Yeah this sounds really cool, I bet my daughter would love love love it!

Janet Johnson said...

Sounds like a fun story! I think I would like Jane Austen as my guide. I can only think she'd be hilarious and very astute about details. :)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Tanya, I bet your daughter really would love it. It's adventurous, but a leisurely read, too, and you learn a lot about early San Francisco without being bored. It all just works into the story.

Janet, I love the idea of Jane Austen being a guide through time travel. You are so right, she would notice such telling details and with a wry twist worthy of Twain.

Carol Riggs said...

I like time travel books! This one sounds fun for kids and adults alike. Sam Clemens/Mark Twain would be a fun guide indeed!

Julia Hones said...

That sounds like an exciting trip bursting with imagination. There are so many literary figures I would like for a guide... I think I would take a few days before making the final decision. Thanks for sharing this lovely review.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Carol, you are right. I read a lot of kid books, but this is an interesting read for any age.

Julia, glad you liked the review. I'm like you: it would be hard to decide. Twain, maybe. But Edith Nesbit would be a great travel companion, too. She was such a humorous writer!

J. A. Bennett said...

I need to pick this one up as I'm writing a time travel novel myself. Thanks for the recommendation!

Donna K. Weaver said...

This sounds like an awesome story. I'm adding it to my to read list!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

J. A., is your book MG or YA? Glad this piqued your interest.

Donna, yes, do. It's interesting on more than one level: history, mystery. . . .

Rachna Chhabria said...

This sounds like a super awesome story. I am very keen on reading it.

Nick Wilford said...

I love history, time travel, and I'm also partial to Mark Twain (though not read him for a long time), so it sounds like a great package!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Rachna, you can order it from Kindle if you have a Kindle reader. (I don't know which cities the print copy will be in abroad.)

Nick, you are right: those three make a good combo: Twain, time travel, and history.

Vicki Tremper said...

Oh, I hadn't heard of these before. Very cool. I would want Emile Zola as my guide, which is why I wrote my time travel, Finding Sophie, even though he ended up not being in it. LOL!

Elise Fallson said...

This does sound like a fantastic ride! Great review and sounds like something I'd really enjoy reading, need to put this one my list! (:

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Vicki, I love the idea of Zola for a guide. What adventures you would have for sure! Your book sounds interesting.

Elise, thanks for following me. Glad you liked the review, and it definitely should be on your TBR list.

Michelle said...

Great review.
But as for your question... I'm drawing blanks :/
Xx

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Hi, MIchelle, thanks for stopping by. As for who to have for a guide, I'd be hard pressed, too. There are so many I would find interesting!

Jayne said...

It sounds an interesting book. I also write time-slip stories - the current one skips around a little - and it can be a lot of fun for a writer. The only thing with this book that sounds confusing is that there are two men dressed in black - one the guide and one the mysterious dude! But I do like the idea of Mark Twain being their guide. :)

What literary figure for me? Gosh. It would have been interesting to walk with Dickens through London. I'd have liked to stay in Cornwall with Daphne du Maurier. A conversation with Douglas Adams would have been good. And I'd have liked to sit with Roald Dahl while he told me a story. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Such a cool premise. I'm going to check out this book. Thanks!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Jayne, thanks for stopping by. The two men dressed in black are what make it such a fun mystery, and the revelation of the 2nd dude is so interesting. I agree Dickens would be an interesting guide. And Daphne du Maurier was one of my favorite mystery writers. She had quite a range.

Theresa, yes, check it out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.