Imagine you live in a society not unlike your own - with two major differences: Psychic/paranormal abilities are the norm rather than the exception, being classified in a scale of one to ten, and marriage/family is so important that there is enormous pressure for everyone to get married, and divorce is virtually impossible. Marriage agencies find a compatible partner for everyone, and a non-agency marriage amounts to a scandal.
In this society of New Seattle, Zinnia Spring is something of an outsider. She has been declared "unmatchable" by the most reputable marriage agency in town. Strangely enough, this gives her a degree of freedom, because her family's pressure to find a husband can always be countered with the fact that there is no compatible husband for her. Zinnia has also been involved in a society scandal some years ago, and was branded a "scarlet lady" by the tabloid press. Defiantly adopting red outfits as her trademark, Zinnia has made her way as an interior designer. She also works as a "prism", helping people with psychic abilities to focus their energy. Her clients are "matrix talents" who have the ability to analyze patterns in everything around them.
One day one of Zinnia's clients vanishes. He talked about a journal he had for sale reputedly by Bartholomew Chastain, who is rumored to have committed suicide more than thirty years earlier. This is how Zinnia meets Nick Chastain, Bart's son.
Nick Chastain is an outsider, too. In a society where family is everything, he was born before his parents could get married. He also owns a casino, an occupation which has a lot of financial rewards but is frowned upon by New Seattle's high society. Nick, a matrix-talent whose ability is stronger than the scale of ten can measure, has a plan to achieve respectability. This includes getting married to a woman from a respectable family, through a marriage agency. He has searched for his father's journal for a long time, and now through Zinnia he gets involved into the investigation about the bookseller, who turns out to have been murdered. Very soon he has hired Zinnia as his interior decorator to camouflage their working together at the investigation.
The sparks fly between Zinnia and Nick; a mad professor, Zinnia's intellectual brother and their starchy aunt, Nick's uncle and a pushy photojournalist all complicate the picture, and you are in the middle of one of JAK's delightfully written romance stories with a hint of mystery. Suffice it to say that - marriage agency or no - Nick and Zinnia end up together. And if you ever find yourself caught in the middle of a maze made of man-eating carnivorous plants, make sure you have a matrix talent with you.
Reviewed am 04.02.99 von Friederike
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