Name: The Psychology of Time Travel
Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Number of Pages: 372 (Kindle)
Published: August 9th 2018 by Head of Zeus
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel
A time travel murder mystery from a brilliantly original new voice. Perfect for readers of Naomi Alderman’s The Power and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven.
Four female scientists invent a time travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…
Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…
When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, that strong reek of sulphur. But when the inquest fails to find any answers, she is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?
The Psychology of Time Travel is a really engaging read. Time travel as a theme can be a bit hit and miss for me. I sometimes find it overly confusing to the point that I lose interest but this story was one I think I (mostly) kept up with quite well. That said, trying to give you an overview of the plot is probably going to leave you far more confused than simply saying you should certainly give this book a try.
There’s the ultimate locked-room murder mystery, for how do you find a killer when it turns out they could be anywhere in time? And it doesn’t help matters when the victim cannot be identified either. It really opens up ‘means, motive, opportunity’ issues, because it could literally be anybody, from anywhere, at any time. It will take a very determined and committed person to sort that one out!
There’s also a lovely time travel romance which was an absolute pleasure to watch unfold, despite the many complications of loving someone from an entirely different era who has the capacity to disappear from day to day life at will and reappear again as an entirely different version of themselves. The way these particular characters came together made me want to go back and read their first meetings all over again.
There are characters you want the very best for, and those who seem to lose something of their humanity along the way as they strive to protect the reputation of the industry they built all those years ago. There’s a young woman determined to get to the bottom of the murder at the toy museum, to find out ‘why’ and answer the questions that play on her mind so she can be at peace.
I can’t say I’ve read that much time travel, but one thing I’ve never come across before which is used to great effect here is the idea that you can actually meet your younger (green) or older (silver) selves in the past and the future. You can in fact meet with them, converse with them, or wake up to find your older self preparing breakfast in the kitchen. The other selves can to some extent offer help or hints, and I really liked this idea.
The story weaves together and there are many strands and many secondary characters. At times it did get a little confusing and convoluted, especially when a character could be on their way to pick their child up from school only to end up meeting an adult version of said child, so you do need to pay attention, but in the end it all ties together and drives towards a satisfying conclusion. I’m glad I picked up this book for the originality, the mystery and the memorable characters.