Three acts are typical of a play, and many novels can be broken down into a three act structure. Evaluated this way, "Sands of Time" is three acts, each a different genre.
The first act, which sets up the remainder, is contemporary fiction. While there are hints of several directions in which the story could go, this first part is mostly getting to know Sam Shepard. We learn Shepard is a successful business owner haunted by the death of his wife and children, struggling with alcohol and faith; not just religious, but also faith in himself.
Act two reads like a mystery with a hint of romance as Shepard finds clues indicating not all is as it seemed. Act three introduces a mostly unexpected paranormal element and could be classified as a paranormal thriller.
I've read books like this before and they'll often feel like they take a change of direction that makes no sense. As a reader, I'll feel like the author is cheating by setting up expectations in my mind and then not meeting them. I didn't feel this way with "Sands of Time." In principle, I like the idea of genre mixing, but it can be hard to pull off. Satre manages this feat by giving hints in prior sections of what is coming. He also smoothly segues from one section to the other. Both of these make what could have seemed like sudden changes feel like a logical story flow. Last, Satre pulls the threads together from all three parts, accomplishing a surprise ending that is satisfying in all respects.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **