Another existential, aliens-among-us oddity from the author of Conscience of the Beagle (1993). Six years ago, on Bomb Day, the inhabitants of Coomey, Tex., found themselves cut off from the rest of the universe by an impenetrable yet radiant barrier, the Line, beyond which lay, perhaps, only a post-nuclear desolation. For all those years, the Torku, humanoid aliens with malleable flesh, have provided Coomey with everything needful, right down to brand-name consumer goods, and police chief DeWitt Dawson has dutifully cooperated with Seresen, the Torku leader. But now the town's plump Mary Kay rep, Loretta Harper, turns up murdered, and Dewitt uneasily ponders the list of suspects: Hubert Foster, once the town's banker, now a pot-smoking bohemian; the inscrutable Seresen, denounced by angry townsfolk; Billy, the dead woman's violent estranged husband; even Dewitt's wife, Janet, whom he suspects of having an affair. Slowly, the policeman realizes that the Torku are trying to teach him lessons about the imaginary nature of time and about multiple realities whose boundaries diffuse and mingle. Thoughtful, impressive work, though it is far from certain precisely what philosophical points Anthony wishes to make here. Consequently, the impact is markedly less than that of her splendid previous novels.