Official Review: The Heidelberg Conundrum by Keith Girard

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lisalynn
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Official Review: The Heidelberg Conundrum by Keith Girard

Post by lisalynn »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Heidelberg Conundrum" by Keith Girard.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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The Heidelberg Conundrum, referred to in the title of this book, is a mathematical theory deemed unsolvable by the scientific community. Myth has it that these obscure equations hold the key to time travel. Solving them will literally change the world. Everyone from the Swiss Institute in Zurich to the government of every major power in the world, including the US, UK, Germany, and Russia, want to gain control of such incredible power.

Toward this end, college professor and scientist Michael Morgan is hired by the Brechner Institute, one of the players seeking to conquer “this damnable riddle.” But attempting to do so is driving Michael mad. He thinks he sees ghosts in the middle of the night and spends his time doing nothing but thinking about the problem.

The blurb for The Heidelberg Conundrum by Keith F. Girard, promises “intrigue, deceit and the intertwining of two distant worlds across space and time.” These are great ingredients for an engrossing tale, but they are not mixed in a way that produces a satisfying result. There are some truly stellar plot twists along the way, but the writing style doesn’t allow these points to shine as they should.

Some of the opening descriptions are intriguing. “But if she’d seen what he’d seen, the haunting visage, the ephemeral light, the cold breath, she would think much differently.” The sensation of sharing a room with a ghost is vivid in the reader’s mind. In other places, the characters walk, walk, walk when they could skip, stroll, wander, plod, trudge or many other more colorful choices. Overall, this book contains too many adverbs substituting for imaginative language, especially in the dialogue tags. “…he added hesitantly.” “…Mary Ann forcefully interjected.” “…said Mary Ann, incredulously.”

Speaking of Mary Ann, she’s Michael’s live-in girlfriend and the dominant partner in their relationship. She browbeats him at every turn, literally on the drive to the institute, and in the rest of their life together. Their conversations are dull and not reflective of the brilliant minds these two are purported to possess. This discrepancy leaves the reader detached from the characters. I feel sorry for Michael, but I don’t really care what happens to him.

Chapter Two seems like it would be more appropriate as Chapter One, taking off The Shining style with a winding drive to a job interview and a creepy assignment. Soon after, the story spins its wheels. Michael doesn’t make any progress solving the theory’s equations, and the narrative doesn’t advance, either. When it finally does make a leap, it’s through dry conversation about military projects and conspiracy theories. There’s little tension in many of the exchanges. They occur simply to impart information to the reader. In other places, the author “tells” rather than “shows” important scenes. In a movie, these interludes would be shown in montage format with appropriate music, but the results are not so charming on paper.

There’s lots of head hopping in this narrative, leading to jarring transitions and overall confusion. If Michael is the main POV character, then everything has to be viewed through his eyes. For example, Mary Ann “worried to herself that he might be nearing a nervous breakdown.” Michael can’t know something that Mary Ann keeps to herself. “Mary Ann didn’t like what she was hearing.” Unless she says so, Michael can’t know if she likes it or not without other body language or tonal cues. This type of POV break occurs through the book with many of the characters.

At one point, Michael forgets what can only be characterized as a stunning, astonishing, and completely mind-blowing event. The turmoil that should be swirling around him then, and in the ongoing situation, is nonexistent. This is the point where the book goes off the rails. It’s totally illogical for the character to forget something so unparalleled and remarkable. By not exploring this aspect, the author misses what could be the true brilliance of the book.

On the technical side, the errors pile up quickly and permeate the entire book. I’m rating The Heidelberg Conundrum two out of four stars. What could have been an innovative story turns out to be something far more formulaic. Readers who like adventure might like this book, but science fiction fans will be disappointed.

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The Heidelberg Conundrum
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Fazzier
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Post by Fazzier »

Obscure mathematical equations that hold key to time travel seem to be a brilliant idea by the author. The remark on that concept caught my attention from your introductory paragraph. However, it's sad to note that the delivery was not as effective. Without the problems with diction, telling rather than showing, and main character forgetting remarkable events, this book would have been more enjoyable. Such a unique and thorough review, thank YOU!

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Post by Miriamsam »

Great review. I'm mostly intrigued by the time travel mentioned.
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Post by Brendan Donaghy »

It sounds like a brilliant idea for a novel, one which would have interested a lot of people, I'm sure. Just a shame the writing itself doesn't match up to the idea. Thanks for your review!

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Post by lhotch17 »

I like the book's concept, as I like puzzles, cryptograms, and science fiction. The book sounded intriguing and I had thought it would be worth a read. Your review certainly shows that some of these elements were represented but not pulled together in a clear and cohesive manner by the author. It sounded like a great story line. Thanks for writing this review.

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Post by lisalynn »

Thanks for the comments. I wanted this book to be good! I was really excited about reading it.

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Post by Letora »

I'm not one to understand math very well. I wonder if this would take away from the book for me? Science fiction is an iffy genre for me. It's either hit or miss. This one might not be for me. Thank you for reviewing!
"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope." - Dr. Seuss

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Post by kdstrack »

I was disappointed to see the low rating for this book. The concept sounds amazing! Hopefully, the author will rework the book and correct the errors. Thanks for your review.
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Post by kandscreeley »

Well, your opening paragraph makes the book sound incredibly intriguing. I'm always interested to read about time travel. It's just too bad it's not done well. The change in perspectives and errors turn me off from reading the book. I also wonder if it would be extremely technical and complex. Thanks for the information, though.
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lisalynn
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Post by lisalynn »

Letora wrote:
09 Jun 2019, 14:34
I'm not one to understand math very well. I wonder if this would take away from the book for me? Science fiction is an iffy genre for me. It's either hit or miss. This one might not be for me. Thank you for reviewing!
There's no actual math involved, just the allusion to it.

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lisalynn
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Post by lisalynn »

kandscreeley wrote:
10 Jun 2019, 12:49
Well, your opening paragraph makes the book sound incredibly intriguing. I'm always interested to read about time travel. It's just too bad it's not done well. The change in perspectives and errors turn me off from reading the book. I also wonder if it would be extremely technical and complex. Thanks for the information, though.
It's not technical, other than the time-travel concepts, which can be difficult to understand anyway. IE: Back to the Future, Part Two! You might like the time-travel parts of this story if that's an interest of yours. Other than the errors, there's nothing really wrong with that aspect. But the author dangles so much more in the way of sci-fi and doesn't deliver that I was really disappointed.

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Post by SunVixen »

A math puzzle as the key to time travel is a really great idea. I have never met such a concept before. Usually all time travelers just build time machines, and that’s it! However, the mathematical theory really must precede the creation of such a machine.
It is a pity that this book is poorly written.

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Post by jadriscoll »

Thank you; for this review. It helps me to determine whether I want to spend my time reading this book or not. The premise of this story is someting that I would typically be interested to read; however, I don't think I could get past the poor writing. It would be helpful if the author was able ti revive this work based on constructive feedback.

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Post by esp1975 »

On some level, it sounds like the concept of the book could have been worthy of Umberto Eco, but that the author failed. No matter how confusing the Eco gets, you always care about the characters, and that remains key, especially in science fiction.

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Post by LinaMueller »

It sounds like it would be a better book if the book would put more action into it. I don't like anything related to math. :lol2:
Good review. :tiphat:
Heart! We will forget him!
You an I, tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me
That I my thoughts may dim;
Haste! lest while you're lagging.
I may remember him!

Emily Dickinson

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