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 friend 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?)
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