Don't pick up this book unless you plan to stay up all night: Susan Leslie Liepitz draws you in deep with characters so real they might come knocking on your door.

Though she'd never characterize herself as such, Cara Edwards is a psychic detective. During a period reenactment, a ten-year-old boy disappears on a restored 19th-century sailing ship and the boy's father turns to Cara.

Fearing the media frenzy, Cara at first refuses to help but finds herself fighting off physical pain until she agrees to use her powers. Having taken the case, she tries another reenactment.

On the Mystic, as Cara prepares for her turn at watch, the wall near her bunk opens. She enters the portal and walks through to 1833-still aboard the ship-where a storm is brewing. The command to "batten down the hatches" comes too late and Cara and Captain Blake Masters, a guest on the 1833 Mystic, are washed ashore.

When Blake realizes Cara-even dressed as she is-is no young boy, he goes along with her tale of a young widow in search of her son. He is a true hero-very human in spite of being handsome; compassionate yet practical; and realistically frustrating at times.

Ms. Liepitz chooses words exquisitely in her sensual prose. The transitions in time are plausible and the author's take on how people perceive life after death touches the heart. This is a mystical story, woven well. Everything about it strokes the senses, giving the imagination a curl-your-toes workout. (Apr., 320 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Cyndie Dennis-Greer