Mystery/Thriller Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, February 2000
Page Four of Four
Timeline by Michael CrichtonKnopf, November 1999.
Hardcover, 444 pages.
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As he has done in many of his prior novels, Crichton has again used new technology to create a powerful story. This time he uses quantum technology and about it he writes, "Quantum technology flatly contradicts our common sense ideas of how the world works. It posits a world where computers operate without being turned on and objects are found without looking for them. An unimaginably powerful computer can be built from a single molecule. Information moves instantly between two points, without wires or networks. Distant objects are examined without any contact. Computers do their calculations in other universes. And teleportation is ordinary and used in many different ways." This quote is from Crichton's introduction; scientists have already learned this much about the strange quantum world, but they know little about how to manipulate it. Crichton greatly expands upon these strange features of the quantum worlds to help make the concept of time travel believable. In his latest novel, a group of historians and grad students are working on the re-creation of a medieval castle and town in France, commissioned by ITC, a company run by billionaire Robert Doniger, a brilliant, but somewhat deranged physicist. The research group assumes it is a typical research grant until they are called in on a special mission -- to return to the actual time they are studying to help find their friend and colleague, Professor Johnston, who is lost in that world. Their travels are beset by violent knights, warlords and other dangers. The world of medieval France is not a peaceful one. It has frequent battles, thievery, sword fights, rape, disease and random acts of violence. The group must rely on what know about this world through their observations of it centuries in the future in order to survive the ordeal and rescue the professor.
Michael Crichton, who has penned some of the best-known titles of the 90's including Jurrasic Park, Congo, Disclosure, Airframe and Rising Sun, has written another appealing action-thriller that evokes the chilling consequences of a possible future technology. Crichton also does an amazing job of recreating the feudal lifestyle of 14th century France as a time of great violence. His recreation of the weapons, armor, fights, people and lifestyle of this time period is fascinating. Timeline is a very visual and fast-moving novel that is sure to please Crichton fans.
The Victim in Victoria Station by Jeanne M. DamsWalker & Co., Oct., 1999.
Hardcover, 208 pages.
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Dorothy Martin loves her life in England. An American married to a retired English police inspector, Dorothy also has a habit of stumbling over dead bodies every so often. While on a train on the way to London, Dorothy befriends a young computer executive who is on his first trip to England. But by the time the train pulls into Victoria Station, the young man is quite dead. When a passing stranger declares himself a doctor and offers to report the death, Dorothy reluctantly agrees, as she is late for a doctor's appointment. But the death is not reported in the London papers, and the railway authority denies any knowledge of it when Dorothy calls to inquire. Suspecting foul play, Dorothy goes undercover as a receptionist in the dead man's computer firm, Multilinks, to find a murderer. She is soon up to her flowered hat in corporate politics and murder.
Dorothy Martin's fifth adventure leads her into the world of cyberspace and international software sales, with very entertaining results. Her mentor in the world of computers is Nigel Evans, a grumpy yet endearing computer whiz who assists Dorothy in her nighttime sleuthing forays at Multilinks headquarters. The storyline is interesting, and the characters are well-drawn and entertaining. But it is Dorothy who is the real draw here -- we can hardly wait for her to clap on yet another new hat and spring into action again. Highly recommended.
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