I’ve been enjoying rereading The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series, by Jodi Taylor; these are time travel stories, excuse me, descriptions of investigating history in contemporary time. They are “kitchen sink” books; there’s humor of both the slapstick and more subtle variety, suspense, romance, fantasy, you name it, in a quasi-academic setting that allows for a strong team relationship among the major characters – “we are St. Mary’s, and we never leave our people behind.” At least, not forever.

The author’s approach is definitely, “What can I do to hurt these characters this time?”, especially the MC, Dr. Madeleine Maxwell (Max) – she wrings them out and leaves them to dry, though each book tends to have a happy ending. Her historic research is impeccable, as far as I can tell, so you get to visit everyone from Mary Queen of Scots to the Trojan Horse along with Max.

Flaws: I thought the writing in the first book was a little clunky but that has smoothed out – except that Taylor is not very good at showing time passing. Max is apt to think something about having been at St Mary’s for years, and the reader is left thinking “wait, when did that happen?”. Also, every once in a while a dire situation is saved by something that skirts a little close to dea ex machina – though at least this particular dea is set up in context.

Here’s the full list of titles. The 7th book in the series, Lies, Damned Lies and History is due out in May. (May is going to be a really good month for me, in terms of book releases!)

Also, if you like this series, Neve Maslakovic’s Incident Series, starting with The Far Time Incident, is similar in many ways. It’s less funny and the MC is much less of an expert on history than Max as well as more conventional, but she has her own Minnesota charm..