The story is set in the early twenty-first century, with the action split between our own world and the mysterious world of Lyndesfarne. In Lyndesfarne, everyday technology from our own world simply fails to work, but a society every bit as sophisticated as our own is supported by pervasive magic.
A sequel to New Bridge to Lyndesfarne, the novel once again follows Kevin and Tanji as they investigate the mysterious death of a microbial epidemiologist, who was found in the exact centre of the New Bridge shortly after its official opening.
Disclaimer: The world of Lyndesfarne described in these books is entirely fictitious, and bears no resemblance to the charming Holy Island of Lindisfarne in North East England.
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Kevin, a bridge architect, and Tanji attend the formal opening of the New Bridge between England and Lyndesfarne. After the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, Kevin meets several old friends, including his co-designer Bret. Although apparently male, Bret is a talented shapeshifter and is actually female. Bret is accompanied by his husband Eosin, a sprite designer, and his mother, who is actually the semi-mythical Ferryman.
Later that evening, Kevin and Tanji attend a champagne reception at the Walled Garden. They re-encounter several colleagues from the New bridge project, including Professor Braxton from NISSA, Peter Brenner and Kenneth Nasterton from Kevin's old firm of architects, Tweedledum, Craz the Overseer and Quarl.
Some months before the ceremonial opening of the New Bridge, Kevin and Tanji are discussing the world of Lyndesfarne. Kevin is keen to understand more about the Other World. Tanji volunteers to arrange a trip for them, as tourists, to visit a nature reserve for dragons.
On the safari itself, Kevin and Tanji encounters dragons at worryingly close range. From their guides Simas and Omaz, he learns more about both these astonishing creatures and their historical impact on Lyndesfarne society.
Kevin and Tanji are woken very early in the morning by Bret, who announces that a dead body has been found in the exact centre of the New Bridge. It is entirely unclear how the body got to the place it was found, or who the man died.
Kevin and Tanji accompany Bret to inspect the corpse. They are introduced to Guardians in the world of Lyndesfarne. Yiselle updates them on the discovery of the body, who turns out to be Doctor Andrew Wollack.
After a wonderful meal prepared by Bret's father (a talented cook), Kevin receives both a formal apology for the way he was treated during the events described in New Bridge to Lyndesfarne and a much more informal invitation to join the hidden organisation that looked after the crossing between the Two Worlds.
After crossing to Kevin's world, Sergeant Graves shows Bret, Kevin and Tanji the CCTV footage of the sudden appearance of Wollack's body on the bridge. Acting on a hunch, Kevin asks Bret about magical invisibility. Bret is able to acquire an amulet which dispels the glamour which prevents them from seeing the mysterious person who drops the body on the bridge.
Kevin visits the Newcastle Institute of Special Sciences and Arts (NISSA) and is greeted by Professor Linda Braxton, who has replaced the disgraced Professor Alan Wilmington. There, he is briefed on the artificial nature of the magical barrier between the Two Worlds, as well as topology of the crossing and the differences in the plant and animal species in the worlds.
Bret and Kevin, accompanied by Tanji, return to the Newcastle Institute of Special Sciences and Arts (NISSA). They inform Professor Linda Braxton about the death of Andrew Wollack on the New Bridge. Braxton explains how Wollack came to be recruited into NISSA, and arranges for Sanjit to show them the large and modern library where Wollack had been performing his research work.
Kevin and Tanji enjoy a wonderful holiday in a tropical beach resort in the world of Lyndesfarne. Kevin learns more about Tanji's shapshifting abilities when she uses it to darken her skin and reduce the size of her breasts for comfort when near-naked on the beach.
While dining in the hotel, Kevin chances to make the acquaintance of Demaz, who is holidaying with his wife and family at the same resort.
Kevin and Tanji are relaxing in his little flat in Manchester, where Kevin is preparing a special dinner for Tanji. Just as the dinner is ready, there is a knock at the door. Tanji answers it, and is immediately snatched by persons unknown.
Kevin is distraught. He leaves a telephone message for Bret, then contacts the local police, who do not appear to take him seriously. In the middle of the night, Bret arrives to collect Kevin.
Kevin is escorted on a visit to a warehouse on the England side of the crossing, guided by Doctor Willis from the Newcastle Institute of Special Sciences and Arts (NISSA). Inside the warehouse, Kevin has the loading and unloading processes explained to him by the manager, known only as Dave.
Bret takes Kevin to Cliviger Grange, the headquarters of the Guardians in Kevin's world. There, he is introduced to Warden Derek Williamson who, together with Sergeant Graves, agree to assist in locating Tanji. Kevin also meets Tanji's Zarb, a Guide from the Guild of Directions.
Having made plans and set investigations in motion, Bret and Kevin decide to go to London to continue their investigation into the death of Andrew Wollack.
Kevin takes a business trip to London to discuss plans for a bridge in Africa. He is accompanied by Tanji, and Kevin is called upon to act as a tourist guide for her, in contrast to her usual role as a Guide from the Guild of Directions.
Bret and Kevin are driven to London in a car from Cliviger Grange. They arrive at the School of Epidemiology at University College London, where they interview Andrew Wollack's Ph.D supervisor Huw Williams.
Bret and Kevin are forced to tell Huw of the death of Andrew Wollack. They also interview Angela Newman, who is a cousin to Yiselle, and who recruited Andrew into the Newcastle Institute of Special Sciences and Arts (NISSA).
While on the way to London, Bret explains to Kevin his concerns about both cultural and biological pollution - the flow of ideas, and the smaller kinds of animals and plants, between the Two Worlds. Bret also explains about the risks of infections - epidemics - being spread in both worlds.
Even before Bret and Kevin can leave the School of Epidemiology at University College London, Bret receives a phone call from Tanji's kidnappers. They are instructed to go to an address in Jaireby where Kevin and Tanji had previously taken a vacation.
Bret and Kevin hurry back to the crossing to Lyndesfarne and then use the portal network to travel to Jaireby. The address is a department store. Tanji appears in a magical mirror, which is actually a window to her cell. Kevin is able to read a bar code label which is stuck to the underside of Tanji's foot.
Outside the department store in Jaireby where Kevin and Bret have just seen Tanji in a magical mirror, Bret receives a message from the kidnappers on his slate. It instructs them to come to the Walled Garden the following day.
In the meantime, Bret and Kevin return to Kevin's world and thence to Cliviger Grange. Kevin elicites information about the barcode he observed on Tanji's foot from Dave, the manager of the warehouse he visited earlier in the year. Dave later informs Kevin that the barcode is used for green beans imported from an area of Lyndesfarne that Kevin had visited with Tanji earlier.
After a sleepless night at Cliviger Grange, Bret and Kevin are driven to the Newcastle Institute of Special Sciences and Arts (NISSA) for a further interview with Professor Linda Braxton. They discuss the research work that Doctor Andrew Wollack was undertaking and meet his supervisor Ms Wendy Rossiter.
Kevin is able to inspect Andrew Wollack's work on his notebook and computer, and finds that Andrew has come to the conclusion that, in the past, epidemics have been deliberately started to put pressure on the Board of Control to close crossings between the Two Worlds.
Bret and Kevin leave NISSA and return to the crossing, and thence to the Walled Garden hostel where Kevin had recently stayed with Tanji. There, Bret and Kevin receive another message from Tanji's kidnappers, as well as get a second glance of Tanji in the hostel room magical mirror.
Bret begins to suspect that he and Kevin are being tracked by the kidnappers, using a Finder. He writes to the Ferryman using his Slate. Less than an hour later, a Messenger arrives and presents Bret with two magical amulets fashioned as armbands to obscure them from the kidnappers' Finder.
Kevin and Tanji take a vacation at a beach hotel in the Other World. They encounter a magical beachcomber. Tanji takes Kevin on a tour of the locality outside the hotel, and she tells him about Raptors, a smaller but still dangerous kind of Dragon. They also visit various local markets and see many kinds of fruit and vegetables for sale, including green beans.
Bret and Kevin leave the Walled Garden and travel to the area that Kevin had visited markets with Tanji, and where green beans are imported from. On the way, Bret uses his a href="glossary.html#slate">Slateto communicate with Vanise and Lyssa.
On their arrival, information from Vanise and Lyssa confirms that a large crate - which might have been used to transport Tanji - was delivered to a warehouse somewhere in their vicinity. Acting on a hunch, Bret and Kevin track down a farmer at a market who has just sold green beans to a pompous-looking middleman. Bret and Kevin tail the buyer to a warehouse where the beans and other vegetables are being packaged for sale in Kevin's world. They interview the staff and confirm that a large crate was delivered and opened recently.
While waiting for Bret to organise transport from Cliviger Grange, Kevin comes across a set of carved stone Dragon heads. Bret tells Kevin the story that these stone heads were presented to a group of brave men who killed some Dragons which had - unusually - traversed the crossing centuries ago. For reasons unknown, these heads were subsequently buried and only discovered accidentially when modern extensions were being built at Cliviger Grange.
Guided by the warehouse staff, Bret and Kevin make their way to a small building which is evidently guarded by what Kevin describes as "goons". They work out the part of the building where Tanji must be held, and Bret uses a magical device to blow a hole in the wall.
Kevin grabs Tanji and runs for the warehouse portal, leaving Bret to slow down the pursuit. Tanji and Kevin lose the last few pursuers by making several rapid changes at portal termini. Tanji sends several messages using the slate Bret had thoughtfully presented to Kevin, and uses Lyndesfarne money to buy replacement clothing to evade tracing magic. After many hours travel, Kevin and Tanji finally arrive at Bret's family home, where there are delighted to be re-united with Bret.
Kevin and Tanji are made welcome at Bret's home. Bret's father presents them with food and drink while Tanji recounts her story to the Ferryman (who is also Bret's mother). Bret also tells Kevin and Tanji about his activities to deter the kidnappers.
Kevin and Tanji rest overnight at Bret's home. Kevin wakes suddenly, having realised that the kidnap gang's leader is Demaz, whom they met on their vacation some time before. He announces this insight to Bret and the Ferryman, who recognise the name and immediately instigate investigations by the Guardians.
The Ferryman also has more information about the death of Andrew Wollack. He died t oa cracked skull, but was also infected with a dangerous pathogen which has already infected Yiselle and other Guardians at the crossing. Since it is clear from Wollack's researches that there is a threat of a trans-world epidemic, and that his supervisor at NISSA, Wendy Rossiter did not report it to Professor Braxton. Bret and Kevin are determined to investigate further.
Kevin and Tanji are staying with Tanji's Uncle and Aunt. After breakfast, Tanji prepares a picnic and they set off to travel by portal to a lakeside picnic spot, where they extensively enjoy each other's intimate company.
The enlarged party travel to NISSA and Bret and Kevin once again interview Professor Braxton. The Professor reports that Wendy Rossiter has disappeared, leaving shortly after Bret and Kevin had visited the previous day.
We return to Kevin and Tanji's earlier visit to Bret's family home. Bret and her mother (the Ferryman) tell a tale of the Apache Nation and how their lifestyle was disrupted by a war between two factions from the world of Lyndesfarne.
Professor Braxton tells Kevin, Tanji and Bret about Wendy Rossiter's mother, Patricia Rossiter. Assisted by Sergeant Graves, they track down the older Rossiter's cottage, not far from the crossing. Patricia confirms that Wendy visited recently, and suspects that Wendy has travelled to the world of Lyndesfarne to find her father.
Patricia Rossiter tells a tale to Kevin, Tanji and Bret, about meeting a charming young man from the Other World, when she was much younger. They had a liaison, but he later abandoned her when she became pregnant with Wendy. The lonely young woman is befriended by a Messenger called Yise, who is Bret's grandmother. After some questioning, Patricia Rossiter reveals that her missing boyfriend is Demaz.
Bret informs Patricia Rossiter that her daughter Wendy may be in danger if she is, as they suspect, attempting to locate her absent father Demaz. Rossiter senior pleads with Bret, Kevin and Tanji to locate her daughter as quickly as possible. After some thought, she concluded that Demaz may be hiding out in the desert area where Kevin and Tanji previously visited to view dragons.
A large group has gathered at the Lyndesfarne crossing by the time that Bret, Kevin and Tanji get there. As well as many Guardians from both worlds, Warden Williamson and Graves are in evidence, as are many other robed figures that Kevin believes to be senior members of the Board of Control.
After some heated discussions, where their report of the story from Patricia Rossiter is largely disregarded, Bret, Kevin and Tanji are allowed to pursue Demaz unaided. The three of them travel to the desert dragon country previously visited by Kevin and Tanji, and are joined by Simas and Omiz who act as their guides.
Bret, Kevin and Tanji disguise their features using a magical glamour. Simas and Omiz report that the dragons are behaving strangely in a particular area and they set out to investigate. They locate Demaz and Wendy Rossiter in a cave beneath a dragon's nest but, before Demaz can be questioned, he self-administers a mind-wipe.
Late in the evening after dining with Bret and her mother (the Ferryman), Kevin and Tanji tells a tale of Bram, her great-uncle. They learn about Bram's adventures in the Second World War, and the way that he met Tom and Alasdair. Bret describes how the young men are recruited to Cliviger Grange, how Tom joins the Guardians and Alasdair joins the Guides.
Bret describes how Alasdair meets and marries Yise, and then is suddenly called away with Bram. Neither man is ever seen again, and Yise spent the rest of her life searching unsuccessfully for her missing husband, usually in the guise of a Messenger.
Kevin finds himself musing on the continued political tensions which surrounds the last remaining crossing between the Two Worlds and speculates to Tanji that perhaps the time has come to close the last crossing.
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