Ossus Library Index
Science Fiction Index


A novel by Nathan Van Coops
(2020, Skylighter Press)

In Times Like These, book 1.5

An FBI agent tired of getting bullied by her male colleagues runs across a crime that can only be explained by time traveling, and spends her career trying to track down the suspects.


-- First reading (ebook)
Read December 28th to 31st, 2020


This is a tough book to review, because it involves a single character watching the events of a book I haven't read. Still, while the story is short, the characters are well drawn out. The crime is set in the 1980s, and the author makes reference to the styles of that era, which brings some realism to it. The two characters of note, Stella and Detective Briggs, have enough substance to make them feel real, too. My favorite parts of the book involved the time paradoxes, where effect preceded cause. The highway accident that killed one of the perpetrators was really nicely written. The continuous reference to her status as a woman was annoying, but I think that was done on purpose, to highlight how things have changed in the intervening years (though I suspect a lot has stayed the same below the surface).

Spoiler review:

This book opens with a note that it coexists with another book, and so shares some events. While the story is about Stella, an FBI agent struggling to gain credibility, the events she’s investigating all happen from the previous book, or so it would seem. In this way, a lot of the events appear to be disjointed. That’s not to say they aren’t enjoyable, because I like time travel and the twists that can occur because of it. The book uses the twists in a way that will probably require reading the alternate book to fully understand. I suspect this one is setting up a new character for future novels.

From a reader point of view, it’s obvious that there is time travel involved (and not just from the title), as the man who died in the accident on the first page is also alive in prison as his younger self. Then there is a man who tries to kill a small group of young adults, whom Stella meets at a bar accidentally, drowning their sorrows in the loss of others, I think. When Stella witnesses a highway fight on the top of a semi trailer truck, the perpetrator of which gets killed by hitting an overpass, she’s obviously rattled. When the truck is observed at another location, she goes there, and witnesses another fight, as well as encountering a man who gives her a name.

She’s knocked out and wakes up in the hospital, but gets the jump on the investigation again -as she’s threatened by the killer, who is apparently trying to kill all time travelers, so he can be the only one. She takes him to a location where she found time travel accessories, which he really wants. She manages to escape using the killer’s time travel device to her own advantage, and meets the architect of the ability to time travel.

The main character arc in the book is that Stella is one of a very few female FBI agents, with a partner who thinks women agents are a stupid idea and makes no secret of how he thinks she’s incompetent. But as he disappears for a while, she takes over the investigation, and does a good job. Taking place in the 1980s, the author puts a lot of details that make it fun to read. In a neat twist, she solves the case, but because it involves time travel, she can’t admit to solving it, and ruins her career.

So many years later, she’s contacted by the love interest, Detective Briggs, who comes across a reference to the murderer. She’s then coopted into a time travel detective agency, which I assume sets up for later books.


Back to Top

All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright © 1999 -  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.