A 22nd-century assassin inadvertently travels back to Prohibition Hollywood in this sci-fi-infused historical thriller.
After losing her loved ones to violent men, Lauren Ramirez lives her life as the highly skilled killer-for-hire called Malinche. She handles jobs for the U.S. president, who in 2131 assigns her the task of assassinating the vice president, who’s allegedly planning a coup. With limited time, the off-planet job requires a quick exit, and Lauren’s descent to Earth ends in a spaceship crash-landing. She’s injured but rescued by Pauline Windsor, a renowned film actress in 1927 Hollywood. Lauren is soon aware of her 200-year journey and also that there’s a chance at returning to her own time, provided she can repair her downed ship. It’s feasible with help from Matt, the ship’s AI who’s downloaded himself into Lauren’s neurobots, becoming a voice in her head. Meanwhile, the typically apathetic assassin surprisingly befriends Pauline and acts as protector for her and her family. And Pauline will need defending: her boyfriend is gangster Benny Sorrentino, who’s caught up in a dangerous rivalry with the Colombini mob. Historical accounts furthermore cite Sorrentino as the most likely cause of Pauline’s death, which Lauren knows is imminent and is determined to stop. Reppert (The Captured Girl, 2016, etc.) proficiently amalgamates action and drama. The well-established protagonist endures tragedy as a girl, so that later she convincingly struggles with emotions while dispatching bad guys with cool efficiency. Characters are dynamic, especially headstrong Pauline, but Matt is a real surprise; he adds comic relief and Hollywood trivia to keep Lauren informed, even if she occasionally threatens to scrub the opinionated AI from her neurobots. The old Hollywood backdrop imbues the story with authenticity, including the name-dropping of classic film stars and the impending introduction of movie sound, a possible detriment to the current silent-era actors. Reppert wisely simplifies the time traveling, with its explanation decidedly less important than rich character development. Regardless, the oddly practical ending should appease fans of the subgenre.
A striking tale flaunting a strong protagonist who’s resilient in any time period.