cover image Tourists


Lisa Goldstein. Simon & Schuster, $17.45 (239pp) ISBN 978-0-671-67531-8

In her third novel, Goldstein ( The Red Magician ) mixes Arthurian legends, an Arabian Nights' fantasy and a dash of Latin American magic realism to tell of an American family's adventures in the mythical Middle Eastern country of Amaz. Dr. Mitchell Parmenter has come to Amaz with an ancient manuscript containing the legends of the country's one-time ruler, the Jewel King, and directions to finding his fabled sword. While the mild-mannered, slightly befuddled scholar learns he is not the only one in Amaz interested in the sword, his precocious adolescent daughter Casy meets colorful characters on Twenty-fifth November Street, a strip of junk and antique shops. Her younger sister Angie compulsively writes a history of the imaginary kingdoms of Borol and Marol, paralleling the legends her father is researching. Goldstein has a clutch of engaging characters--especially the natives of Amaz with their superstitions, propensity for mysticism and long-simmering feuds. They and the novel's highly imaginative, clearly depicted milieu are not well served, however, by awkwardly contrived situations and the weak resolution of the mystery, as Goldstein too often gets caught up in her own metaphorical net. (July)