The Paradox Hotel
February 20, 2022

Book Review

The Paradox Hotel

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


Imagine going back to the late Cretaceous period to marvel over the plethora of various dinosaurs roaming the earth. This was one of the many opportunities afforded TEA Agent, January Cole.

One of her duties in the Time Enforcement Agency was to assure that no one messed with the timestream. “Look, don’t touch!” Everyone knows the rules—you cannot interfere with anything that’s already happened. If you do so, there will be ripples that affect the fabric of reality. January is “Unstuck,” an occupational hazard of traveling the time stream too often. This neurodegenerative condition progresses in stages and has no cure. She is in Stage I and occasionally experiences a “slip” – hears an internal clacking sound followed by experiencing an episode / memory of the past or even future. These spells can last seconds to minutes, and to an outside observer it “looks like you were somewhere else” (medically speaking, like an absence seizure). Retronim is a medication that slows the process, it’s not a cure. It forestalls the inevitable progression to stage 2 and finally 3, were the slips occur frequently and lead to coma.

January, now progressing to stage 2, is on meds and is serving as security head for the Paradox Hotel. The hotel serves as a waiting area in preparation for “catching a flight” to the past at the nearby Einstein Intercentury Timeport. The rich pony-up hundreds of thousands of dollars for exotic vacations to the past.

Apparently, the time travel operation is expensive and is proving to be a losing proposition for the government. The Feds have invited four trillionaires to the hotel for a summit to accept bids to privatize the operation. January’s job is to see that the summit happens without a hitch.

January is assisted by Ruby, an AI drone that hovers over her shoulder, observing and offering advice and valuable info. Ruby’s voice is not female and has an accent. January thinks it would be sexist to make her drone a female. To make Ruby more personable, January has added googly eyes, even though it obscures her visionary input. As the summit draws near it is apparent that someone is breaking into the hotel’s security system, erasing video and trying to hide events.

Soon there are attempts on the lives of the trillionaires. January has a slip in which she visualizes baby velociraptor in the lobby, quickly followed in reality by an incursion of three velociraptors into the hotel with the resultant brutal killing of one the employees. Who has smuggled from the time port three dinosaur eggs, on the brink of hatching? And why?

Weird anomalies begin occurring, someone is deliberately screwing with the upcoming summit. January’s suspect list is growing. A blizzard is approaching, and the surrounding roads are impassable and there are not enough rooms for all.

Rob Hart provides a masterful twisted and complex narrative involving a time travel murder mystery. Expertly employed are a colorful ensemble cast of characters to aid in the progression of intrigue and tension. January continues to not only visualize but converse with her beloved girlfriend, Mena (aided by her continual “slips” ) This not only explores the theme of grieving and lost love, but also provides some relief from January’s usual acerbic and antisocial behavior.  Many refer to her as a sarcastic bitch. The ultimate prize is having unrestricted access to all of time, and with it, the potential destruction of reality.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.

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