An inefficient time machine sets the stage for adventure, romance and confusion.
It’s World War II, and Johnny Lander is recruited by a Merchant Marine buddy to join the crew of the fighting ship Roderick. Unfortunately, the Roderick is torpedoed, and Johnny finds himself clinging to a life raft and hoping he doesn’t become shark food. Soon he and his shipmates are rescued by kindly British seamen, and while he recovers, we’re suddenly fast-forwarded to 2007. Johnny is now a married man and gainfully employed at Bradshaw Investments International–yet he’s about the same age as he was on the Roderick, due to a time machine. Throw in science nerd Hank, the keeper of the aforementioned machine, foxy love interest Charmaine and some unexpected twists, and it is one head-scratcher of a novel. Cross is a historian and former locomotive engineer. His second outing (The Twelve Dreams of Laima, 2000) is conceptually schizophrenic. On the plus side, the prose is solid, and Cross is a decent yarn-spinner who manages to keep the story from stagnating. Johnny is an engaging protagonist, and Charmaine is a fetching leading lady. Unfortunately, the story is frustratingly undermined by a meandering, often baffling structure. The clumsy time travel–and alternating first- and third-person narration–make it a jarring read. Cross demonstrates potential, and if he had followed a more linear path, the story would have been more accessible and resonated with readers.
Nice characterizations can’t overcome this convoluted sci-fi mish-mash.