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 Ambramson’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.
© 2012, Jerry L. Wheeler