A War in Too Many Worlds (Time Traveler Professor, #3) by Elizabeth Crowens
The exciting and highly entertaining next installment in The Time Traveler Professor series!
With WWI in full swing, John Patrick Scott, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Scots, had been assigned to a desk job after an injury took him off the frontline in France. A painful recovery left him with a morphine addiction that he successfully fought off yet still lurks beneath his self-control. He and his friend, Arthur Conan Doyle, remained in contact; however, Doyle had sidelined Sherlock Holmes in favor of his intense interest in spiritualism, so John's assistance with the detective stories was no longer necessary.
The night of Doyle's recent Halloween party, the time machine John had crafted for him had gone missing. However, he strongly suspected his friend, H.G. Wells, was the thief. Wells, who actually did take the machine, struggled to figure out how to get the thing to work, but a nudge in the right direction sent him back to 1845 and a lush but strange and dangerous jungle-like location. While there, he found an abandoned sketchbook with a locket enclosed among its pages, and when he returned to his own time and place, he was amazed to discover these souvenirs came back with him. The trip whetted his appetite to try again, but when he improperly assembles the machine, he literally gets the shock of his life. He's rescued from electrocution by the timely appearance of the machine's rightful owner, Arthur. Together, the two plan a more extensive trip back in time to thoroughly investigate the odd island and the unnatural creatures it harbors.
Meanwhile, John's superiors at GHQ realize he's wasted shuffling papers and send him undercover to Germany to trap a traitor: his dear friend Francois Poincaré. After being wounded in France, John developed the supernatural ability to see the ghosts of the soldiers killed on the battlefield around him. This secret skill comes in handy, and he enlists the help of two unlikely specters in his mission in Berlin.
A War in Too Many Worlds is the third book in Elizabeth Crowens's fantasy series, The Time Traveler Professor, which should be read in order for the greatest enjoyment. This book focuses on John's mission in Germany and Doyle's and Wells's time-traveling attempts back home. The story builds on the actions and relationships developed previously and the plot is intricate and multi-faceted as it follows storylines through the combined books. However, an excellent Author's Note preceding the start of this story relates the essence of what has gone on before that may assist a newcomer in getting their bearings.
John Patrick Scott has become somewhat embittered, what with his wound leaving him with a permanent ache and limp, being relegated to a desk job, not to mention the canceled musical career he'd worked so hard to attain. He's overcome his addiction to morphine, but it's a weakness that remains just under the surface of his willpower. I was sad for his gradual and complacent slide back into the use of opium even as he acknowledged the folly and the pain he had gone through in kicking his habit. I was intrigued by his relationship with the ghostly child, Chaimie, and Private Freund, and the storyline in Germany was my favorite by far of the two. The dark and decadent state of dissolution of wartime Berlin created a moody, atmospheric setting for John's operation and set the stage for his internal struggle over betraying his old friend in more ways than the one ordered by General Headquarters.
Arthur Conan Doyle provided some of the best dialogue in the story and H.G. Wells, "Bertie," was most entertaining as he experiences time traveling with fresh eyes. The author deftly mixed historical figures with fictional characters during historical events and imaginative fictional adventures.
I recommend A WAR IN TOO MANY WORLDS to fantasy readers who enjoy alternate history, time travel tales, or stories set during WWI or old Berlin.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.