By Ekta R. Garg
March 27, 2013
Rating: Bypass it
In the conclusion of the author’s “The Book of Drachma” series, a twenty-first century cardiologist and an emergency room nurse continue their adventures in the fifteenth century. They find out the purpose of their time travel to a time so unlike their own and help the residents of the fictional island of Shepperton (which the author places between Ireland and Scotland) by discovering the cause of the mysterious illness afflicting the famed painters and potters of the island. All of the series plotlines find something of a resolution in this final installment that ails from the mechanical issues of the previous two books.
Bob Gilsen and Judy Morrison have made peace with their fate: they have traveled to the fifteenth century and don’t have a way to get home. However, their hosts in Shepperton have gone out of their way to accommodate Bob and Judy. Because of this welcoming attitude, the two twenty-first century residents don’t find it too difficult to settle in and help Falma, Craycroft, and the rest of the members of the Earl of Shepperton’s cabinet and close friends to solve the mystery of what ails the artisans of the island. Bob and Judy have also taken charge of the care of the Earl himself; he also suffers from an illness that has confounded Shepperton’s best medical minds, and Bob and Judy have committed themselves to nursing him back to health.
In the meantime back in the present day, a cutthroat reporter contacts Bob’s wife, Marilyn, for any salacious details about Bob and Judy disappearing almost at the same time. Marilyn approaches the reporter warily at first but manages to convince him of Bob’s fidelity and also his innocence in his disappearance. When the reporter gets a visit from a Shepperton resident, he realizes that the “story of his career” may turn into the story of a lifetime. Marilyn receives confirmation that Bob may never return to her but she finds new friends in the Janie and Earl Crabtree, the parents of the patient Bob first ran out to see at the beginning of the series.
Author Cook seems to lose a little bit of steam with this third book. Readers will run into several problems familiar from the first two books. Paragraphs of dialogue run on for pages without any dialogue tags or breaks to let readers know who is speaking and when one character stops and another starts. Also Cook leans too heavily on his own experience as a physician by using medical terms without explaining what they mean. Early in the book, Cook describes Bob examining a patient and says:
“He, too, noticed that the man was febrile and his pulse was rapid, but that his color was good. He examined his arm wound and noticed that it looked all right, with no purulence.”
The language itself changes pitch from one paragraph to the next without adhering to its time period, and the inconsistencies might jar readers from the story from time to time.
More than anything in this book Cook steps in as the third person omniscient narrator in what seems to be an attempt to hurry the story along. Readers for the most part might not mind Cook’s involvement in the book, but his tendency to over explain the readers’ actions and repeat their words might distract readers’ attention. Cook explains so much of the story in third person omniscient, in fact, that this reviewer wonders whether this third book should have actually been worked into the first two books and that this trilogy might have worked better as two books or even one longer novel.
Readers might feel a little let down by the ultimate ending to the novel. After building up the story in two books, Cook doesn’t fully resolve the fate of some characters. Also, some plot elements built up as essential early on feel less important by the end of this last book, which may make readers wonder what parts of the series they should consider as the key “take away” moments.
While this reviewer may have recommended the first two books in the past, this last book leaves some story to be desired and could have used an editor’s careful pruning of unnecessary details and guidance on what readers would want most from a book. “The Book of Drachma” series started strong but ends up treading water to reach its ultimate end.
What the ratings mean:
Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection. It’s definitely worth it!
Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.
Bypass it–Free time is precious. Don’t spend it on this book!