The Observer Effect
March 24, 2022

Book Review

The Observer Effect

reviewed by Carolyn Scott


Joe Bridgeman is back home in 2020, after his previous time travelling adventures in 1960s London, where he prevented the death of a woman critically important to the future.

Working in his London antiques store, he’s wondering if he will ever get to travel in time again, when he’s contacted by the Continuum, an organization of time travelers formed in the future. They have a new job for him to do if he’s willing to time travel again.

One of their agents has disappeared and appears to have been kidnapped by a rogue time traveler. He has been tracked to Paris in 1873, to the site of the Salle Le Peletier Opera House just before it was destroyed in a fire. Although time travel doesn’t allow the Continuum to change large events in history that were observed by a lot of people, such as the fire itself, they are able to make subtle changes to less observed events that may impact on the future. The Continuum is sending agent Gabrielle Green to change the outcome of the fire for one man in particular. If Joe accepts the new job, he will accompany Gabrielle on her mission back in time to Paris in an attempt to locate the missing agent and send him home.

This third novel in the series builds on the events that occurred in the first two books. Although the novel could still be enjoyed as a stand-alone, it’s worthwhile taking the time to make the whole journey with Joe and his sister Amy from the beginning of the series. In this episode, Joe not only learns more about how to use his own special abilities but also about the Continuum and its work. The mix of some magic with some futuristic sci-fi in the novel makes for a good combination to support the rules and mechanism of the time travel without going overboard with gadgets and wizardry.

From the outset, Joe is puzzled as to how he will find the missing agent in the midst of an inferno, yet alone free him from the clutches of the kidnapper and send him back home to his own time. It doesn’t help that Gabrielle is openly hostile to him accompanying her on her mission and withholds information from him. However, Joe discovers that his special ability to see the past in objects is growing in strength to assist in finding the missing agent and his sister Amy’s extraordinary paintings of her dreams also give him important clues.

Back in the present time, Joe also has the complications of time travelling to deal with. He is literally not the same person he was before he travelled and has to tell people he suffered amnesia after an accident to explain why he can’t remember events from his previous life. There is also his sister Amy who isn’t yet aware of what the future has in store for her as well as Joe’s love interest, Alexia who disliked him as the earlier, more arrogant version of himself in a previous time. Time travelling has certainly made Joe’s life complicated.

The dynamics between the characters are one of the best features of this series and the prickly relationship between Gabrielle and Joe adds some amusement to the novel as well as leaving Joe stumbling in the dark working things out for himself. Fortunately, back in 2020, Joe has his best friend Vinny, who accompanied on his trip to 1960s London and understands what he has been through to help keep him grounded. Vinny is such a delightful character with his love of life and unique approach to problems that I really hope he gets to accompany Joe on another trip at some stage.

This is both a smart and fun time travel series. Nineteenth century Paris comes vividly alive in full color and texture as Gabrielle and Joe visit the opera house and its staff and patrons just prior to and during the fire. Although the tale of the Phantom of the Opera is associated with the Palais Garnier, the subsequent home of the Paris Opera after the fire, glimpses of a phantom might be seen in this opera house. Against this colorful backdrop, it’s easy to become engrossed in this fascinating plot which culminates in a thrilling climax. Fortunately, Nick Jones has left the way open for Joe to engage in more time travelling adventures in the future as he becomes further involved with the Continuum.

With thanks to Blackstone Publishing via Netgalley for a copy to read. Publication March 15. 

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