Tim is recruited along with other local psychics who are taking the HIV drug Sustiva to enter a trance-like state every Saturday morning in a clinic in China Basin. They are ostensibly trying to predict and prevent suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge, but soon find out otherwise. – When Sam and Ruth return from their honeymoon she takes over running the Hillsborough household and discovers an eerie discrepancy in the staff schedule at Sam’s estate. For everyone close to Tim, the living and the dead become difficult to distinguish from one other. – Artie Glamóur becomes a smash hit at Cabaret Brunch at Arts and a mysterious young man saves his life. – Nick helps Tim and the other psychics bring down a ring of identity thieves and Tim finally has a rendezvous with his late grandmother in the middle of the Folsom Street Fair.
Out in Print Books
The sixth entry in Mark Abramson’s Beach Reading series, which follows the exploits of San Francisco resident Timothy Snow, is appropriately steeped in local color and features the cast so familiar to regular readers of this string of novels. However, California Dreamers adds a somewhat darker hue to the rainbow.
The aforementioned Timothy Snow, a longtime San Franciscan, also has some measure of psychic ability. A nefarious shadow organization called The Paulson Group takes advantage of Snow—as well as some other local seers—by channeling their gifts with the help of a new HIV drug called Neutriva. Their ultimate goal is to use this information to predict and prevent suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge. Or is it?
If you’re a fan of the series, all of your favorite characters are back: Tim’s aunt Ruth, her new husband Sam, Tim’s partner Nick and drag queen restauranteur Artie—who does some spectacular turns in his new show at the restaurant. This installment deepens Tim’s character and provides a great deal of background as to his upbringing in Minnesota. And Abramson’s mention and description of various SF locations is liberally sprinkled throughout. Residents will recognize them immediately and tourists will want to see them.
California Dreamers is different from its companion novels in that The Paulson Group provides some moments of suspense and menacing frisson, and the overall narrative tone is darker and more philosophical regarding not only death but the afterlife as well. My only quibble is a longish dialogue Tim has with his dead grandmother near the end which is less entertaining than other parts of the book.
However, fans of the Beach Reading series will find this a more than worthwhile addition that serves to deepen and darken Timothy Snow as well as continue the storyline they know and love.
Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler
Number six of Abramson’s Beach Reading Mystery series takes us into the layers and depths of protagonist Tim Snow’s psychic powers. He’s used them before, but now they’re being amped up x-fold in new and ingenious ways. Recruited into a group of other HIV patients by a shadowy research outfit claiming to use psychics to find and prevent suicides, Tim is trance-linked via Neutriva, a new AIDS drug, with an elderly fortune teller, a street person, and others to form a sort of psychic hive mind. But something’s wrong; the trials are not all they seem. Tim’s lover Nick and the regular cast appear, along with a guardian angel and some sweet closures. This satisfying longer volume gives free rein to Abramson’s masterful plot weaving.
by Mark Abramson
(Lethe Press, June 2012, $18 softcover, also in e-book)
In between his work as a waiter at a popular Castro-area restaurant in San Francisco, and being a good “pet parent” to his (and his boyfriend’s) new puppy, Buck, Tim Snow decides he wants to volunteer to help others. He signs up for a research study to help prevent suicides, which will put him in a drug-induced trance to utilize his natural psychic abilities, which seem to have increased while on a controversial new HIV medication. But when Tim starts getting warnings, in the form of unexpected visions from people in his past, he bonds closely with the other volunteers to find out if there is indeed a sinister motive for the study,
In this sixth of his “Beach Reading” series of mysteries, Abramson goes much further into Tim’s past, concentrating more on the evolution of his psychic abilities and how they affect those around him, to a degree you would not expect to happen. Might be a bit far fetched for some, but the story is crafted to be enjoyable to all, regardless of your personal beliefs on psychic phenomena. The story also provides great character development about Tim, Aunt Ruth, as well as Artie and Arturo, owners of the restaurant where Tim works. Well written, as is the entire series, which I recommend reading from the beginning for best enjoyment. Five stars out of five.
– Bob Lind, Echo Magazine