“Professor Simon Cross and his assistant Elizabeth West have returned from their accidental journey into the past and are adjusting to their new life together as a couple. But an unwanted visit from the Council for Temporal Studies could change everything.
A murder in the past is changing the future, and if the killing isn’t stopped, Simon Cross might never be born.
When they arrive in 1906 San Francisco, Elizabeth and Simon have no idea who wants Victor Graham dead or how it will happen. With the earthquake that leveled most of the city just days away, the race to save Graham thrusts them into a complex mystery of jealousy and revenge where murder might be the least of their worries.”
After finishing the first book in the Out of Time series, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second book When the Walls Fell. If you’ve been following The Secret Library book reviews, you know how much of a Monique Martin fan I am, and this book did not disappoint!
Following their accidental time-travelling adventure, Simon Cross and Elizabeth West are held to task by the governing body of all time travel: the Council for Temporal Studies. Almost immediately, they are given a mission to travel back to 1906 and stop the murder of Victor Graham, which Simon’s very birth may depend on.
Straight away, we are introduced to inevitable relationship problems between Simon and Elizabeth. Yes, they are a great couple, but the age gap and their starkly differently backgrounds. Simon is a very protective man who underestimates Elizabeth, while Elizabeth, who is used to total freedom, will sometimes recklessly dive into dangerous situations with little thought for her new partner’s concerns for her. With Simon’s life on the line, Elizabeth jumps at the chance to undertake this mission, and leaves him behind with his doubts.
The stakes are always high in Martin’s books, and in When the Walls Fell, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake marks the deadline for Elizabeth and Simon to complete their mission.
I loved the characters in When the Walls Fell even more than in book one, particularly Teddy; a genius scientist who has difficulty socialising with others. It’s possible that Teddy is autistic and because there was no term for autism back in 1906, how Teddy is different isn’t stated explicitly. Aside from being lovable, Teddy is super smart, and his inventions have huge implications for the Council’s very existence.
As in book one, When the Walls Fell paints a believable picture of San Francisco over a century ago, and the customs at the time. I felt that Elizabeth and Simon working separately, engaging and working with other characters was a good reassurance on Martin’s part that the she won’t use the same formula for each book. The story is peppered with action, but feeds us a greater understanding of the forces at work across time and the people involved.
I have only one criticism of this book, and that is that as in book one, Simon finds himself jealous and trying to bat off other men who are seeking Elizabeth’s affections. While she is a great character, vivacious, beautiful and daring, I can see this element of Simon’s jealousy getting repetitive quickly.
I reckon it goes without saying that I really enjoyed this book, and it gets a hearty 5 stars from me and Fin!
All the books I’ve read so far have functioned very well as standalone books while still integrating themselves into a linear series, and contributing to the spin-offs (see here for my review of Martin’s Nairobi Jack.)
Historical, magic realism, fantasy and urban fantasy fans will love this book, and although you’ll enjoy it as a standalone, I highly recommend reading book one in the series: Out of Time: A Time Travel Mystery. (See my review for book one here.)
You can buy When the Walls Fell on Amazon in e-book and paperback formats.
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