1967: 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.
2017: 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.
2018: When Odette discovered the body, she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, flesh. But when the inquest fails to answer any of her questions, Odette is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?
The year is 1967 and four women are about to achieve worldwide fame for being the first to reveal their invention to the world; a Time Machine. As the stand in front of the live television audience and demonstrate the machine, as they step out, one of the four, Barbara Hereford has a breakdown and is rushed away from the spotlight for medical attention.
Fifty-one years later and the time machines are run by the what is known as the Conclave still headed up by Margaret. The technology is now safe to use, and there have been various spin-offs, including a child’s toy called the candy box that could project the small object placed inside to a few minutes in the future. Odette is new to volunteering at the toy museum and has been asked to open up, but when she opens the door there is a strong smell of sulphur. Following the scent, she ends up in the basement and traces the smell to a locked cupboard. Unlocking it and opening it a body of a woman falls out that is bleeding profusely from gunshot wounds. More shocking is the fact that the inquest into her death fails to find any evidence or answer any of her questions.
Ruby knows that her grandmother, Barbara, was a pioneer on the time machines, but after her breakdown, she has never really spoken about it and it was something that was strongly enforced by Ruby’s mother. However, when they receive a message from the future about the mysterious death of an elderly lady it is time for Barbra to open up about the past and maybe she can help solve the mystery of the murder across time.
Time travel books are notoriously difficult to get right and in the pretty accomplished debut novel from Mascarenhas, she manages it pretty well. The story zips along pretty quickly as the story is told from different perspectives by the large number of characters in the book. The narrative jumps from the past to the future as each piece of the mystery is revealed. It is a really enjoyable story and if you liked the Fifteen Lives of Harry August then you should really give this a go too.
Born in 1980, she is of mixed heritage (white Irish father, brown British mother) and has family in Ireland and the Republic of Seychelles.
She studied English at Oxford and Applied Psychology at Derby. Her PhD, in literary studies and psychology, was completed at Worcester.
Since 2017 Kate has been a chartered psychologist. Previously she has been an advertising copywriter, bookbinder, and doll’s house maker. She lives in the English Midlands with her partner.
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Thank you to Blake Brooks at Head of Zeus for sending me a signed copy of the book to read. Follow the hashtag