Sunday, April 16, 2017

2017 #1: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Connie Willis)

To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2)To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If the genres of mystery, sci-fi, and historical fiction were able to conceive a love child, this book is it. Connie Willis deftly joins together humorous characters, intriguing timelines, and literary allusion in one easy-to-read volume. From the mysterious-yet-archetypal "Lady Shrapnel" to Cyril the dog, Willis' characters are a pleasure to meet, but are never overwritten (with the possible exception of Tossie). There are only two points that made it less than 5 stars for me. The solution to one of the micro-mysteries becomes glaringly obvious rather early in the narrative, and the "sleuths" (Verity and Ned) are far too slow to get it so that one reads the last 30% of the book with some annoyance. I think the author is making a larger point about assumptions, but for the non-Victorian Era reader, it is a bit unnecessary. There are other times where it feels like Willis is worried about her sci-fi cred, and we get lengthy explanations of timeline and time travel logistics that disrupt the flow of the story. That said, this was an incredibly enjoyable read, and fans of mysteries, literature, and history will find it especially pleasing.

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