You know how Amazon advertises their Kindle Owners Lending Library as one of the benefits of having a Prime account? Well, I forgot to cancel my free trial in time (“30 Day” is apparently not the same thing as “1 Month”) and so I’m stuck with a $100 membership for the year. Wouldn’t hurt the pocketbook so much if it wasn’t a lump sum….anyway, I figured I should try and get my money’s worth out of it, so I pulled up my truly massive TBR list and started searching Amazon’s KOLL. It took me fifteen minutes of searching before I found one on my list that was available to borrow, but I have to say that I truly enjoyed this book. I first heard of this book when I entered a giveaway over on Goodreads. I didn’t win, but a year or so later I’ve finally got around to reading it anyway.
Julia Olsen’s week just got harder. The tiny campus of St. Sunniva University is thrown into an uproar when the Time Travel Engineering department’s senior scientist, Xavier Mooney, is seemingly lost to one of History’s ghost zones, and as assistant to the Dean of Science, it falls to Julia to deal with a good deal of the fallout. It seems Mooney stepped into the department’s time machine, STEWie, for an unauthorized late-night run, and never returned. His modern clothes and effects were left behind, everything in order and as normal, he simply failed to return with STEWie’s “basket.” When the subsequent investigation points to foul play, the security chief insists on taking a short trip himself to see how a “normal” run goes. Julia, a Shakespearean scholar, and a couple grad students all tag along. Their intended destination is JFK airport, to see the Beatles arrive on US soil. Instead, they find themselves on the slopes of Vesuvius the day it’s traditionally expected to erupt….
Like I said, I thought this was incredibly fun. The early parts of the book are chock-full of academic politics as Julia tries to keep things running in the wake of the tragedy, and it was fun to revisit that world for a while even if I was never a part of that side of it. Once in the past, I also really enjoyed the depth of research into Pompeian culture. I’ve never been there myself, but everything my wife told me about her visit jived with what I read here–right down to the overabundance of phallic symbolism. Like I said, I enjoyed these elements. Other readers/reviewers have found the book a bit slow. Another minor issue: most of the mysteries here were decently easy to figure out. The central mystery remains mysterious until the reveal, but I called that they were in Pompeii way before they figured it out,* and also figured out who trashed Secundus’ garum shop way in advance. This didn’t really detract from my enjoyment, but I know some people are finicky about that stuff. I look forward to reading the sequel soon, as it is also available via the KOLL.
CONTENT: I don’t recall any R-rated language, but there may have been a little. Mild profanity otherwise. Mild violence. Some sexual innuendo, but nothing explicit. No occult content aside from Romans praying to their gods, as you would expect in 79 A.D. Pompeii.
*This may have been residual knowledge from having read the book’s blurb last year, though, or the fact that I watched the movie Pompeii last week. This is so easy to figure out (and revealed in the book’s synopsis to boot) that I don’t feel bad spoiling that particular non-surprise.