Was it just at the end of last year that I discovered Anne Cleeland's wonderful Acton and Doyle mysteries? This year, my end-of-the-year discovery is The Chronicles of St. Mary's. That's why I don't pick my "Best of" or favorites list until the end of the year. I fell in love with the first book in Jodi Taylor's series, Just One Damned Thing After Another. It's not time travel. These historians "investigate major historical events in contemporary time". And, as the note about the author says, Taylor "went ahead and slung in elements of history, adventure, comedy, romance, tragedy, and anything else she could think of." Delightful, just delightful, with a wonderful cast including a miscast heroine, villains, and, maybe even a goddess or two.
If Madeleine Maxwell (Max) hadn't been rescued by the head teacher in her school, Mrs. De Winter, who knows where she would have ended up. Thanks to her, Max became a historian, and, then Mrs. De Winter stepped in once again to offer her the future. There were always openings for historians at the University of Thirsk, Institute of Historical Research, St. Mary's Priory Campus. They seemed to lose them regularly. But, what kind of campus for historical research has a technical section, a medical team, a security section, Research and Development, IT, a wardrobe department, and a twenty-four hour kitchen?
Max soon learns no one at St. Mary's is normal. There always seems to be some sort of crisis, and everyone on the team works together, often to make everything worse. They may travel through time to study it, with plans to change nothing, but when they encounter terrorists intent on using history for a profit, they often end up dealing with violence and death. Max' first test is a trip to Shrewsbury in the 15th century by herself. But, then she and her partner travel to The Somme during World War I, barely managing to survive. And, it gets even worse on a three-month observation trip to the Cretaceous Period. It seems dinosaurs aren't the only predators Max has to worry about.
I love history, even pretend history. Taylor says she made it all up, and tells historians and physicists not to spit on her in the street. I love the humor, the drama, and the characters in Just One Damned Thing After Another. Max is a new favorite heroine, a strong, determined, out-spoken woman who cares deeply for her fellow staff at St. Mary's. She's always in trouble, and often right. My kind of hero. I can't wait to read about her future adventures careening through history.
Jodi Taylor's website is www.jodi-taylor.com
Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor. Night Shade Books. 2013, 2016. ISBN 9781597808682 (paperback), 336p.
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