The second volume of Moran’s (The Gray Ship, 2013) Time Magnet series continues the adventures of Jack Thurber, an investigative journalist who has a knack for finding time portals.
Although Thurber has traveled back in time before, he’s still surprised when he steps on a storm grate in an abandoned lot in Manhattan and is jettisoned two years into the future. He finds that the New York City of 2017 is radically different: Police officers are everywhere, and the city has the aura of a Third World dictatorship. He quickly seeks out his best friend, Benjamin “Bennie” Weinberg, a psychiatrist with the New York City Police Department, who’s shocked to see him. Apparently, Thurber is supposed to be dead—killed along with his wife and about 26,000 others when, on Thanksgiving Day, 2015, terrorists detonated five nuclear bombs hidden on five U.S. aircraft carriers. Thurber’s mission is obvious—to find out who was behind the attack, and travel back in time to stop them before they can carry them out—but it may be impossible to accomplish. Nonetheless, with time running out, Thurber and a small group of unlikely heroes set out on a mission to change history. The novel’s character development is one of its undeniable strengths. Moran does an adept job of deepening established characters, such as Thurber, while also introducing intriguing new players; Janice Monahan, the appealing wife of a weapons officer aboard one of the ships, is a particular standout. But despite its breakneck pacing and virtually nonstop action, this installment isn’t as strong as its predecessor. In part, this is due to the fact that the author uses numerous first-person sequences (from the perspective of the five terrorists), which are not only redundant, but also slow down the plot’s momentum and dilute its power. Additionally, the ending is predictable and anticlimactic.
A time-travel adventure with well-developed characters, but more than a few (worm) holes.