Genre: Suspense (with a touch of Science Fiction)
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publication Date: 2011
Source: Copy provided by publisher
The Short Version:
A time traveler from the future is in present day Washington, D.C to ensure that horrible events of his past happen without intervention of revisionists from his own time.
Why I Read It:
When I read an excerpt of the first chapter on the Mulholland Books website I was hooked and knew I had to read the book. I was lucky enough to get a an early copy.
Zed is a protector of the events. Other people he calls ‘Hags” are trying to alter the events. Events such as The Holocaust and 9-11 are the kinds of thing the Hags want to prevent. Zed and his co-workers from The Department of Historical Integrity are here to stop the Hags and allow the events to happen because that’s how the Perfect Present that Zed was born in came to be. If the events aren’t protected, the Perfect Present might not exist.
Leo Hastings is a former CIA agent who got drummed out of the agency for having a conscience. He happens to meet a young Indonesian girl who is in the country working from a South Korean diplomat and his North Korean wife.
Tasha is a corporate lawyer who discovers something awful about and organization represented by her firm. She weighs her loyalty to her firm against her feelings about military men like her late brother and picks the dangerous option.
Sari is the Indonesian girl who meets Leo in the grocery store. She’s dependent on her employers but at the same time terrified because they treat her like a slave and she sees no way out of her circumstances.
All of these stories weave in and out of each other in near present day Washington , DC as the ‘Great Conflagration’ that Zed is there to protect nears.
This was a fascinating story. It starts out as a primarily science fiction and time travel story along the lines of The Terminator in that people from the future are here to alter or protect events that are important to their own existence. What I didn’t expect was that it would turn out to be primarily a contemporary suspense thriller despite the presence of characters from the future.
I enjoyed the way Zed’s presence and his background was woven into a story taking place in near present time. The science fiction elements were there but not overpowering to the basic suspense and tension of the story. The glimpses into his time are spare and limited to moments of his personal history and his workplace which keeps him isolated from the majority of his own contemporary society who his role is to protect. The intrigue was all about how the multiple stories and characters would intersect or intertwine and whether any or all of them would be part of the events leading up to what Zed knows as The Great Conflagration,
I’ll admit that Mullen tricked me. About 2/3 of the way through the book I had a pretty good idea about how some major parts of the story were going to play out. I was completely wrong. I love it when an author can lead me one way, but then take the story another and still leave me with a feeling of satisfaction from having read a well done story.
This one is intriguing and the science fiction type elements do not overpower the story enough to keep me from considering it a contemporary suspense story. It’s definitely worth your time to read it.