Taylor (Stones Skipping on Water, 2017, etc.) delivers a treatise on attachment, fate, and the romance of the past in this sci-fi mystery.
Jim Mercer has been many things to many people, but he’s not a quitter. A freelance reporter and thriller author, he drifts through his early 30s until he gets an assignment from the Los Angeles Times to write a piece on Emily Torrance, a 1940s painter who was brutally murdered early in her career and whose work is now set for an upcoming exhibition. He figures that the story would make a better novel than a nonfiction piece—that is, until he sees a picture of Emily. After looking at her self-portrait and the rest of her work, he quickly becomes enraptured. While digging for more information about her life and death, he finds something shocking: an intimate film strip of Emily’s—with him in it. Armed with apparent proof that his feelings for Emily are based on something real—however impossible that may seem—Jim puts all his investigative skills toward a new task: finding out how he can travel back in time, find Emily, and find a way to save the woman he loves once and for all. The novel has the classic pacing and style of a mystery thriller, and it’s no mean feat that the tension remains high even during the portions of the book that take place in the present, well past Emily’s death. Indeed, Jim’s obsession will cause readers to long for the next piece of information, the next step that brings him closer to Emily. What’s more, Emily proves to be an intriguing character in her own right, caught between her no-nonsense attitude and her artistic vision and between high culture and the base and cruel men who often dwell in that realm. Finally, the time-travel element not only enriches the plot and gives Jim a powerful motivation for his investigations, but also allows the story to blend traits of both modern thrillers and classic noir—a truly winning combination.
A powerful, lovingly rendered page-turner full of intense emotion.