The tagline “A Time Travel Noir” suggests the two genres that are combined in this novel, but the science fiction element is minimal. “Time travel” in this case is going back to a specific time through mystical/mental means, much like Richard Matheson’s film script “Somewhere In Time” based on his novel, “Bid Time Return.” There is no time machine per se, though the lead character does make the trip back more than once…sort of. That’s the complicated part.
Jack Cade is an out-of-work actor in 1996 California with a life that’s falling apart and a wife who wants out of their relationship. Someone leaves a very valuable ring with an Alexandrite stone to him anonymously, and that begins Jack’s investigation and strange journey. Before long he’s being hypnotized and sent back in time to Hollywood in the 1950s, specifically into the life and body of Richard Blake, a mineralogist. Blake has a wife, Margaret who drinks too much and seems hostile, and living in their house is her sister Lily, who would today be on the better-functioning end of the autism scale. Jack has stepped into an emotional minefield, and it takes him a while to figure out why and what his true peril is. Meanwhile, Jack has a chance to explore the Hollywood he’s long been fascinated with, and before long he has a chance to meet and even act with Marilyn Monroe, fulfilling his fantasy. That doesn’t go as expected, and soon Richard/Jack’s life is spiraling out of control. An explosive event sends Jack back to 1996 where everything is changed, and mostly for the worse. But Jack has a plan to get back to the past and set things right if he can.
Writer Rick Lenz is a long-time actor who knows the worlds, characters and times he’s writing about. I found this book an excellent read, even if it did confuse me in places when the time-travel starts looping back on itself. Nevertheless, well worth your time and recommended.