4 out of 4 stars
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Time travel and science fiction have always appealed to me, but I have never read a book quite like Time Shot by R. K. Johnson. A top-secret government research facility has developed the technology to send a bullet through time. The gun shoots into a wormhole, and the bullet appears up to a week later or in the past.
The book begins with a forward written by the “agent who saved future reality”. In other words, the premise is that the book is actually real and we will soon be involved in this battle for the future. I thought this was a compelling way to start the book. It really pulled me into the story.
Chapter 1 takes place on April 14th, 2025 and includes the destruction of Ghost Mountain, the research facility, by an antimatter explosion. The second chapter jumps back to April 7th to set up the chain of events leading to the explosion. This shift was done smoothly and reminded me of a movie. In fact, the whole book would translate well onto the big screen with lots of action and intrigue.
The reader soon meets one of the main characters, Sasha Valintinovich Mishkov, a Russian agent sent to infiltrate the secret base. He is ruthless and thorough. He sets up a man who looks like him to get a job at the base. Then he kills the man and his family and replaces him on day one of the job. He manages to keep up the ruse and gain access to this heavily guarded base. Posing as a maintenance worker, he gains knowledge of the time shot device and plans to steal it. What follows is a great sequence chase scenes, shooting, scheming, and explosions.
The characterization, which is sometimes missing in action novels, was well done in this book. The military colonel, Joseph Perez, who chases Sasha is not just professional and intelligent, but he also mourns for the dead and has a playful sense of humor. Sasha is cruel but does not believe in senseless killing. He also shows some remorse over the events around him. These are well-rounded characters. My only criticism is the way the Russian characters speak in broken English to each other. These are highly trained agents who speak clear English when undercover. It seemed like the author put the dialect there to give a certain feel to the characters, but it came off as stereotyped.
One other minor criticism for the book involves the science-fiction aspect. While I appreciate the author explaining how the time shot worked, I found it confusing. I don’t know much about chronon particles, dark energy, or antimatter, so it was a bit garbled to me. I would have been fine with just being told the gun creates a wormhole that allows you to choose a future or past target. Likewise, there was excessive cop-talk at times. All the “10-4, 4-David-11 responding” while realistic, got to be too much at times.
Overall, this was a great combination of action, sci-fi, and mystery. Despite a few small qualms, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. It is the first book of a series, and there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end. However, the main plot is resolved well enough to be a satisfying read on its own. There were very few errors, so it seems to be professionally edited. Because of the violence scenes, I would not recommend this book to younger readers, but anyone looking for a fast-paced spy story will love it.
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