You might think Zed is a light-skinned black guy. In fact he’s from a future world in which race, ethnicity and the attendant conflicts have been eliminated. He’s time-traveled back to our post-9/11 world to blend in with the “contemps” and execute his mission. Zed’s job is to stop other time travelers (“hags,” or historical agitators) from revising history. He will protect the Events that lead to the terrible but inevitable Great Conflagration. This is all very portentous, but you don’t have to take it seriously. Eventually Mullen tires of straddling two worlds, the hags fade away and he focuses more on the contemps and a very conventional tale of corporate machinations. The opening finds Zed in Washington, at a parking lot near the Potomac. He takes out two hags who are trying to prevent the abduction of an investigative reporter. From here on the story takes baby steps. The reporter’s disappearance will not surface in the media until the halfway point, and the identity of his abductors will only be revealed at the end. Besides Zed, Mullen introduces three other protagonists. Leo, ex CIA, is a spy with a conscience, tracking WikiLeaks-type subversives for a shadowy corporate outfit. Tasha is a corporate lawyer determined to ferret out the circumstances of her brother’s death in combat overseas. And Sari is a virtual slave, an Indonesian maid for a Korean diplomat and his abusive wife. The four will bump up against each other. Along the way there will be misunderstandings, tailings and more abductions.
Mullen’s novel has attracted, magnet-like, all the clichés of the genre.