Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Available Now: When Time Is A River by Susan Clayton-Goldner

A Winston Radhauser Mystery, #2
Susan Clayton-Goldner


($2.99 through 11 September)
On a bench at the edge of the Lithia Park playground, someone is stalking two-year-old Emily Michaelson as she plays with her eighteen-year old half sister, Brandy. The child’s laughter curves through the sunlight, as if on wings. The stalker is more enamored than ever, but aware of Brandy’s vigilance with Emily, knows a kidnapping won’t be easy. Planning to gain Emily’s trust, the stalker gives her a necklace—little girls love pretty things. A few days later, Brandy and Emily arrive at the park for the Children's Health Fair. When the stalker sees them enter the public restroom, the opportunity is seized.

Not long after Emily's disappearance, Detective Radhauser finds her rainbow-colored sneakers in Ashland Creek, their laces tied together in double knots. Brandy’s father and stepmother blame her for Emily’s disappearance. Radhauser feels sorry for Brandy, but insists she stay out of the investigation. Brandy can’t do that. She is obsessed with finding out who took her little sister, and why. Will Emily be found in time?

• • •

In the Ashland Outpatient Surgery Center, eighteen-year-old Brandy Michaelson picked at the taped gauze on her cheek. She fidgeted on the edge of the exam table, awaiting the results of her latest surgery. Her palms were sweaty. A successful surgery meant everything to Brandy. No matter how many career opportunities life brought to her, being an actress would always rise to the top. She glanced around the room. Its walls had been recently painted. Yellow. The color of hope.

Sighing, she watched her dad, a professor of English Literature at Southern Oregon University, read a student essay. She’d been disappointed so many times before. But this time would be different. “I had a dream last night,” she said. “And my face was perfect.”

He readjusted the crease on his trousers, that neatness he wore like a uniform. “Don’t get your hopes up too high, honey. Life seldom succumbs to our timetable. This type of surgery can take years.” He returned his attention to the same page of the essay he’d been staring at for fifteen minutes. How did he do it—year after year, the same freshman essays on Faulkner’s symbolism in Light In August?

She studied her dad’s jaw, chiseled with such precise angles that it must have obeyed some law of geometry. A jaw that was as stoic and rigid as his personality. If only her mother were still alive. She wouldn’t have her nose stuck in a frickin’ essay. She’d know how fast Brandy’s heart thumped—how excited and frightened she felt at the same time. Her mother would stand beside Brandy and hold her hand.

Careful to hide it from her dad, she slipped a small, silver-framed photo from the pocket of her carpenter pants and held it in her palm. In the photograph, a tall slender woman stood forever frozen at the edge of the Pacific, waves cresting behind her back. She wore a sleeveless, yellow sundress and her hair hung to her shoulders in dark, spiral curls. Brandy wondered if as she grew older she’d look more like her mother. Wondered if she should have her hair permed into corkscrew curls.

In the photo, her mother’s head was flung back and her whole body seemed to be laughing. It wasn’t the kind of smile someone pasted on for a photograph. It was something deeper—something as pure as joy.

She’d died from ovarian cancer when Brandy was almost four—far too young for memories. At least that’s what her dad claimed. But she often remembered small things. Romping in a backyard garden. Lilac soap. And bath oil that smelled like cinnamon and eucalyptus. The songs her mother tossed into the morning air like ribbons. Yet, despite Brandy’s frequent efforts to see her again, the fuzzy videotape of movement, scents, and sounds never added up to a whole woman. She needed to know more. Especially now that she’d gotten the role of a mother in the senior class play.

When Doctor Sorenson—a tall, square-jawed man in his early forties—entered the examining room, Brandy tucked the photo back into her pocket. Sorenson wore a bright blue lab coat and his matching blue eyes had mastered the sincere look—like every other plastic surgeon who’d ever examined her face.

• • •

Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count.

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