Four female scientists invent a time travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…
Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…
When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, that strong reek of sulphur. But when the inquest fails to find any answers she is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?
When I picked up this book I was feeling burned out on reading crime thrillers. I needed to read something different and was looking for a book without a murder or crime to solve. Then I came across this story. It had been on my wish list for a while and although it was a murder mystery it seemed to have the elements to also feel distinct. I made the right choice; this book was refreshing and so gripping that I didn’t want to put it down.
Science has never been an interest or a strong point of mine, and while the science in the story is clearly well researched it also didn’t feel written in a way that was too academic or alienating of those with no real knowledge of the things mentioned. You accept that this happened and that it is now the norm for some people to live a life travelling different timelines. I like books told by multiple narrators so the various narrators and timelines didn’t take a lot of getting used to for me. I liked how we gradually heard the story of the pioneers and how time travel became commonplace while also trying to solve who they mystery murdered woman was.
Unlike in most time travel stories, there is no apprehension about seeing, meeting or interacting with your past or future self or those who know you. In fact it is accepted that you will visit those you love and that you will see and sometimes spend time with yourself in another timeline. It is usual for there to be many versions of a time traveller in one moment as they revisit the momentous events of their life again and again. Their “silver selves” (an older version of them) will also often give advice to their younger selves. I liked this aspect and it added an interesting element and made me think what things I would tell my younger self and which events from my life I’d choose to revisit if I had the chance.
The time travel headquarters, The Conclave, exists like it’s own country. It has a currency, laws, detectives, conducts its own criminal investigations and delivers its own form of justice. It is run by the autocratic Margaret Norton, who will do anything to protect The Conclave and time travel. Every decision she makes is based on the idea “what might it cost the conclave?“. She seems obsessed with public opinion following Barbara’s manic episode at their first press conference and uses the humiliation she felt as a justification for every ruthless decision.
In Odette’s timeline, she is consumed by discovering the identity of both the body she found and the person who killed her. The courts seem uninterested in answers and a journalist seems scared, so she uses an increasingly dangerous plan in order to get a resolution. I had my suspicions about the identity of the woman in the basement and did work out who she was before it was before the reveal, but it was written well and there were multiple contenders so you do spend a lot of the book trying to put the puzzle together. The author weaves the pieces together like a tapestry of clues and I for one didn’t expect the final picture to look quite as it did; the description of the murder and the revelation of the culprit made me sit back in shock. Kind of like the victim themselves..
The Psychology of Time Travel is an incredible, exhilarating, unique and captivating book that will stay with you long after you read it. I’m excited to see what this author writes next!