Synopsis: A long time ago in the future, the secret of time travel became known to all. And so, the Time Police was formed. An all-powerful, international organization tasked with keeping the timeline straight. This is the story of Jane, Luke, and Matthew – arguably the worst recruits in Time Police history. Or, very possibly, three young people who might just change everything.
Review: The style that this book was written in put me very much in mind of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. Jodi Taylor is very deft at changing the mood, tone, and pace without it being jarring to read.
The three main characters were very well set up and developed throughout this novel. I especially enjoyed Jane’s arc as we see her grow and develop from a timid and under-confident person through her experience in Tutankhamen’s tomb to someone who can face down an entire armored division without breaking under the pressure. This is a testament to Jodi Taylor’s ability as a writer. I identified with Jane almost as soon as she was introduced and silently cheered whenever she stood her ground or stood up to someone. By contrast, I felt that Matthew was not as well developed although I liked the revelation that he had been trafficked around 19th century London as well as the chapter in which he and Jane visit St. Mary’s. Luke’s character was introduced as very much a foil to Jane, being a rich kid whose distant father railroaded him into joining the Time Police, and his and Jane’s interactions throughout the book put me in mind of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Perhaps the best and most affecting chapter was the one in which Luke visits the family of someone who killed themselves after Luke won all their money in a card game.
I really felt the awkwardness and guilt in Luke’s attempt to somehow ameliorate an utter tragedy. There was really gripping and bitter humanity there that provided Luke’s character with some great depth and showed his development. The humour is very Pratchettian, with the main characters’ fumbling effort to retrieve a rabbit from 19th century Australia and their ham-fisted attempt to stop an amateur time traveler early in the book. The depiction of the time traveler Henry Plimpton’s working-class family as fools rankled with me somewhat but there was a nice moment when Henry Plimpton admitted he was using time travel as a way to get money to support them.
The introduction of Sarah Smith, who is later murdered as part of a plot to seize control of the Time Police, provides an eye opening look at how males behave around attractive women from the point of view of Jane, who is implicated in Sarah Smith’s murder. The tension created when Jane and Luke escape the Time Police is brilliantly done, as are the events that lead up to Jane facing down a battalion of Time Police while being accused of murder by the real culprit. Equally satisfying was the scene where Luke stands up to his father at the end of the book and remains a member of the Time Police. Humour is woven throughout the narrative which put me in mind of a gentler Tom Holt offering.
Overall, a worthwhile read with some likable and well-developed characters.
Doing Time will be released on Amazon and through all good booksellers on October 17.
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