by Ellen Larson
Cover Artist: Mike Sissons
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432827335
Date: 20 November 2013
Ellen Larson has set In Retrospect in a far future world where most of the Earth is no longer habitable. In Anatolia, the former Turkey, the Oku, a highly advanced civilization and preserver of some ancient technology, including time travel into the past, surrenders to the fierce and less advanced Rasakans. Now, Merit, a dedicated Okuchan Resistance member, must face working for the Rasakans or see her family and friends destroyed.
Merit has only recently been rehabilitated and offered a position among the Rasakans. She is the last Retrospector, a person who uses time travel to investigate crimes and determine what happened. Time travel is possible only within the limited range of the last sixty years.
A hero of the Oku, General Omari Zane has been murdered, and the Rasakans believe a former member of the Resistance did it. They fear riots and unrest if the Okuchans learn of the murder. Merit hated Zane for surrendering to the Rasakans and would have killed him had she had the opportunity.
As the last Retrospector, Merit is called upon to find the murderer. She has vowed never to work for the Rasakan. However, the Rasakans hold her mother and sister hostage. To complicate matters further, the Rasakan officer she must work with to investigate the murder is her former lover from years ago. When war erupted, they lost touch. Merit now sees him as the enemy and a betrayer.
Complex politics and conspiracies complicate the situation. The Prioress, a former fellow student who vied with Merit to become a Retrospector, but failed, claims she can travel through time without any aids and knows the future. She found Zane dying, but claims not to know who killed him. As Merit witnesses the interactions between the Prioress and Meritís ex-lover, jealousy clouds her vision.
Pushed into traveling back to the night of the murder, Merit debates whether she will be the one who killed Zane. However, she would have to find a way to neutralize the protective devices on the time-travel unit and doing so would also result in her death.
Larson provides an interesting tale of a possible future and a puzzle to solve. People and motives are different than they appear. Past conspiracies have shaped the present and bode ill for the future. Only Merit has the ability to change things. Excitement abounds in the climax as Merit must choose the future for all Okuchans and Rasakans.