In Retrospect by Ellen Larson

This is not a Christian book, but it does have considerable religious overtones. It stops short of good vs. evil. In fact, the story line travels along  the path of scrappy underdog fighting the evil giant... and winning. No spoiler alert... you know most stories these days have a "happy" ending because those obscure, ambivalent  endings went out of style ages ago.

I would describe this story as ... Compelling. Intriguing. Fascinating.

Although, I am allergic to foul language--this has its fair share of it--the foul language is a character development tactic to highlight a character's moral degeneration... and another character's anger and desperation. It is used more like pepper than mayo smothering bread. There is no taking God's name in vain, which I appreciate no end. I couldn't have finished the novel if there had been.

It is written with few head jumps, and that makes me sing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah. There is a huge amount of flash backs, which at times makes it very difficult to sort out the story line and keep the characters straight. I find that incredibly annoying. I do highly recommend the book trailer before reading the book because there is much there that helps to sort out certain aspects of the story that will become apparent as you read.

You are drawn quickly into Merit Rafi's world from the prologue... such a compelling opening for this story (written in future tense--very rare). You just can't help turning the pages. The story is crafted like an Oscar winning film in that each page/chapter answers a reader's question but offers another so you are compelled to keep reading.

Intriguing character: Merit Rafi is a scrappy, sassy, tiny, 30-something woman who is the only one in the world who can use the Vessel to go back in time through the Continuum. Her training lasted for 9 years as a child. The woman is a psychological mess, though, and how she handles her guilt feelings, her anger at the betrayal of her country's president, and the choices she makes (whether good or bad) lead toward an astounding climax that rocks you in your seat.

Fascinating in that the story is a bit unique. It is not a rehash of a revenge story, although revenge and justice play huge roles in Merit's choices. It is not some pitiful, self-recrimination study, although that too plays a part. It is a fascinating depiction of one woman's handling of these intense emotions while trying to offset some rather strong drugs she's forced to take for her "rehabilitation". How she handles reason over heart matters and vice versa so that she finally makes a choice that leads to peace in her soul, and overcomes the manipulations and betrayals.

Do not plan on getting much sleep while reading this book, you won't be able to put it down. It is definitely gritty, and a bit steamy in a place or two but not graphic. 

4.5 stars out of 5 stars. I took off .5 star because of the language character ploy. I think Larson could have done a better job of character development of Thad than his foul mouth and his obvious lack of self-control (read that adultery). AND because the book cover says it is an "old fashioned whodunit" when it is most definitely not a spectacular whodunit nor is it old fashioned. I abhor back covers that lie like that. Although the composite is excellent writing and superior story telling (even though there is an ad nauseum amount of flashbacks), the real story is more about Truth-finding, and Accepting the real Truth, and working through problems to appropriate solutions rather than passive accepting in seeming hopeless situations. Sadly, the triumph depicted here is finding trust in true, but earthly love. God is love and forgiveness... the plot could have had such a tremendous impact if Merit had found the power of that Higher Power... but, I guess that would have been a bit different story.


Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself.

The year is 3324. In the region once known as Turkey, the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders. Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans work secretly to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert their control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection.

Merit, though reinstated to her old job by the despised Rasakans, knows she is only a puppet. If she refuses to travel back in time to identify Zane’s killer, her family and colleagues will pay the price. But giving in to Rasakan coercion means giving them unimaginable power. She has only three days to make this morally wrenching choice; three days to change history.

As the preliminary investigation progresses, Merit uncovers evidence of a wider plot. How did the Rasakans defeat the technologically superior Oku? Why did the Oku surrender prematurely? How did the Rasakans discover her true identity? Merit realizes she will only find the answers by learning who killed the traitor, General Zane.

In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future.
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I was going to write here "little information available", but decided to do a Google, and viola! I found some interesting background information located here.

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