As promised last time out, Murphy ties together both of her latest books (There and Back Again, 1999, and The Wild Angel, 2000) in this quasi-metafiction involving the I Ching, parallel universes, wolves, personal growth, literary games, and whatall. Laid-off, recently divorced librarian Susan Galina, having won a trip aboard the cruise ship Odyssey, takes her friend, physics graduate student Pat Murphy, along too. Also aboard ship, to teach a writing workshop, is “Weldon Merrimax”, a.k.a. SF writer Max Merriwell—he writes fantasy as Mary Maxwell and mainstream-noir as Weldon Merrimax. Soon enough, the ship enters the Bermuda triangle. Susan becomes acquainted with the ship’s attractive, competent security officer, Tom Clayton, and meets an unpleasant character called—Weldon Merrimax. Later, Tom must investigate when another passenger complains that Weldon Merrimax has fleeced him at cards. And then Mary Maxwell shows up, befriending the insecure Susan. Once again Tom goes into action when witnesses describe how Weldon Merrimax murders Pat Murphy—not Susan’s physicist friend, but apparently a character out of a book by Mary Maxwell. Still another . . . but you’ll get the idea. Will Weldon achieve his obscure aims, and will Susan shrug off her inhibitions and get together with Tom? And just how many Pat Murphys are there?
Amusing, sometimes, and well handled but not really puzzling or enlightening: the sort of book where, halfway through all the shenanigans, you’ll either care desperately or not at all.