Saturday, 28 January 2012

Hoodwink by Rhonda Roberts

Cross-posed from here.

The first thing I want to note is that despite Hoodwink being the second book in Rhonda Roberts’s Timestalker series, it absolutely stands alone. You don’t have to have read the first book, Gladiatrix, although it’s definitely worth reading for its own sake. If you enjoy Hoodwink, there’s no reason not to go back and read Gladiatrix afterwards. The only spoilers in book 2 for book 1 are of the “main characters are alive” variety.

That said, on to the body of the review!

Hoodwink is about Kannon Dupree, arse-kicking, time-travelling PI in training. Kannon is Australian but living in America because of events in book 1. She takes a case investigating the murder of one of the directors of Gone With the Wind, after his body is discovered in the present, 70ish years after his death.

Sent back to 1939 to pose as his personal assistant, the first thing Kannon discovers in the past is that just about everyone who’s ever met him has plausible motives for wanting the director dead. And so begins her tangled investigation, four days before his murder.

Hampered by internal politics at the NTA (the time-travelling equivalent of NASA), Kannon is only given two days to prepare. And, despite her client having suspicions as to who the murderer was, Kannon quickly realises that she has no where near enough information from the future to be of much use. What should make it easier are the repeated attempts on the director’s life and the fact that he’s already afraid someone is after him. But who is it?

Somewhere, among the mayhem of the Gone With the Wind Set (complete with Clarke Gable, Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard), Kannon has to work out who has the means and opportunity to murder the director, since everyone has motive.

This is a book not short on conspiracy and arse-kicking. As in Gadiatrix, I like the fact that Kannon can look after herself (thanks to her Aikido training), and that many of the people who try to cross her (violently, at least) are rapidly dealt with. It was amusing to read the reactions of some of the men who assumed she was “just a feeble woman”, although in some cases the amusing part was their expressions when she hit them.

All the loose ends in the past are tied up nicely at the end, but not all the questions raised in the future are fully answered. I hope the next book (due out in September) picks them up again. Since there is a shorter gap between books 2 and 3 than there was between books 1 and 2, I’m also hoping there’s more plot-based connection between them. Aside from Kannon’s change in circumstances, very little of book 1 reappeared in book 2. Not that I think Hoodwink suffered for it. In fact, after I found out where one of the key characters from Gladiatrix had got to, I promptly forgot about some of the other issues raised in the first book. Which is probably a good thing, as I suspect in the longish interim between them, Roberts may have chosen to shift the background focus slightly.

The only thing I would’ve liked to see more of, is Kannon’s relationship with people in the present/future. In particular her friend that helps her out at the start and end. We don’t get to see much of why they’re friends or the connection between them. This is another thing I’m hoping is developed in future books.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars.

[For the record, I read the Harper Voyager Australia ebook of Hoodwink, which I purchased off the (Australian) iTunes/iBooks store.]

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