Tuesday 1 August 2023

The Good, the Bad and the History by Jodi Taylor


Yet another volume in Jodi Taylor's Chronicles of St Mary's, The Good, The Bad and the History continues the story of Max the former historian and now bounty hunter, tracking down time-travellers who are trying to alter the past. The seriousness of the opposition steps up a gear with the growing strength of Insight, a mysterious organisation from the future with sinister aims, so Max arranges to be recruited in order to discover what they are up to. 

This is fully up to the standard of Jodi Taylor's other St Mary's books, with its unique blend of action, humour, and fascinating insights into the less explored corners of history. I enjoy the way that gags are scatter-gunned through the book (I particularly liked a new character, introduced as the Head of the Provisional Wing of the British Museum). The series is also educational; for every mission into the past the Historians research the culture and current affairs in detail.  I commented in my previous review on the quality of the descriptive writing. The author is skilled at bringing other times and settings to vivid life; smells, dirt, sewage, disease, brutal violence and all.

A word of warning - if you haven't read any of these books DO NOT start with this one. In fact, it is much better to start with the first volume and take it from there. The author doesn't usually bother with trying to keep her readers up to date. There is allegedly an extensive character list for each book but in practice I find that to be rather more frustrating than helpful (and managed an almost perfect failure rate this time - only one of the characters I looked up was actually listed)  However, do not be put off from getting stuck into these books. There are now 14 books in the St Mary's series (not including the Time Police spin-offs) and that represents a huge mountain of wonderful enjoyment. 

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