Tom Holt,
Overtime
(Orbit, 1993)

Guy Goodlet was flying back to England in an Allied Mosquito. The plane was battered, riddled with holes from German bullets, low on fuel and, to make matters worse, his co-pilot was dead -- all in all, July 6, 1943 wasn't a good day for Guy. He isn't sure where or when he picked up his hitchhiker, either.

John de Nesle, a.k.a. Blondel, was the court musician to Richard the Lion-hearted. Fearing he'd be kidnapped and ransomed, Richard had asked Blondel to find him if he ever disappeared. Blondel, perhaps foolishly, vowed to do so. Richard, of course, did vanish while on Crusade -- and Blondel has been searching ever since. The signal is a snatch of a song, which Blondel will begin and Richard, if he's within earshot, will finish. After 900 years, Blondel is sick to death of that song.

It doesn't help that Richard isn't being held captive in a place, but a time. Blondel has learned the trick of temporal displacement -- it involves secret rooms in public buildings, if you're curious -- and he's been traveling through time and geography to sing his song anywhere which might conceal a missing monarch. Maybe Guy Goodlet can help.

Throw in some irate Time Wardens, some scheming agents, a Pope and Anti-Pope who share a common body, and a beautiful if simple sister who cooks aggressively but not well, and you've got the makings of yet another brilliant Tom Holt novel.

Overtime is a hilarious time-warping tale which gives us Holt at his very best. You'll have a blast just keeping track of his use of past, present and future tenses -- somehow, I imagine he had to use a variety of flow charts and slide rules to calculate a few of the trickier passages. Blondel and Guy also have a few close encounters in history with the likes of Oliver Cromwell and Julius Caesar which will absolutely have you in stitches.

My solo campaign to convince U.S. publishers to share this wonderful stuff with the American public has still failed to bear fruit, so you're going to have to visit Britain, Canada or your closest online merchant to find this one. Trust me, it's worth the time and effort if you have any fondness for laughing yourself silly.

[ by Tom Knapp ]



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