In 1967, four pioneering female scientists have invented a time machine. As they are about to share their invention with the nation, one of the scientists suffers a very public breakdown, putting the project into peril. In 2017, Ruby, the granddaughter of one of the pioneers receives a message from the future about the death of an old lady. Although she knows that her grandmother, Bee, was involved with what has since become huge business, they never discuss it. In 2018, Odette discovers the body in a gruesome and perplexing crime scene. Just who is the woman and why does there seem to be a cover up, preventing the crime being solved?
The idea of time travel is something that has always fascinated me, so a book in the crime genre about this subject was always going to appeal. After reading the blurb I was immediately reminded of a long-forgotten BBC series, Crime Traveller, which I loved so, coupled with the absolutely stunning cover, I could not wait to start reading!
It soon became apparent that this was not going to be a straightforward linear book – after all it is about time travel! We initially find about about the four scientists and their invention, setting the scene for everything that follows. While their timeline does progress in chronological order, the chapters are interspersed with events from 2017 (featuring Ruby) and 2018 (featuring Odette). With a timeline like this, it could have become very confusing but this was not the case. The constant moving through time was very easy to follow and it created a sense of anticipation as the past moved slowly towards the future.
The idea of a present self bumping into a version of you from a different time has almost always been frowned upon in time travel fiction. What was different here, though, was that it was permitted to interact with oneself, creating almost humorous yet bittersweet scenes such as with the woman who is preparing for her wedding alongside numerous versions of herself from different stages in her life.
There are a lot more thought provoking issues in The Psychology of Time Travel, the one affecting me the most probably being the thought of being able to spend time with long-dead loved ones by travelling back to a time when they were still alive. There is also the ethical dilemma of whether a person should be able to know when they will, themselves, die.
Although the book is full of scenes that make you think about the benefits and pitfalls of time travel, there is still a genuinely good mystery worthy of any crime novel. I loved the character of Odette who wrestled with her conscience to solve the murder of the woman found in the museum and I thought the solution fitted in perfectly with the rest of the plot.
The Psychology of Time Travel is a great read, one that I can easily see book groups discussing for hours on end. Highly recommended.
With thanks to Blake Brooks/Florence Hare at Head of Zeus for organizing the blog tour and for my ARC.
Take a look at the rest of the tour: