Hard Time by Jodi Taylor
Headline, HB, £16.71
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Trying to get to the bottom of an illegal historical tourism ring, all the usual the Time Police methods fall short, so it’s time to call on Team Weird and their unorthodox methods. As a wealthy, entitled socialite, Time Police Trainee Luke Parrish is the perfect spy, along with Trainee Jane Lockland as his sobriety coach, trying to keep his head on the task at hand. But what starts out as a fun return to Luke’s former lifestyle quickly becomes deadly as Team Weird realise there is more going on than just a few sightseeing trips to the past. Can Luke and Jane survive long enough to graduate from Time Police training?
If you’ve caught my review of the first Time Police book, Doing Time, then you’ll know this was a surprise hit for me. I came at it knowing nothing about St Mary’s and Jodi Taylor’s unique, very English, writing style. I instantly fell in love with the pace and action. Every page bubbled with energy and barely controlled chaos. I couldn’t put it down. When I heard about the follow-up Hard Time, I was very excited, and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.
The story picks up not far after the events of Hard Time, with Luke, Jane, and Matthew Farrell avoiding choosing where they will go once they have graduated. I don’t want them to go their separate ways any more than they do. They are great together because they come from very different backgrounds, and have learned to work to each other’s strengths as well as cover their weaknesses.
Fans of Taylor’s previous work will be familiar with the style. It is fast-paced and bulging at the seams with banter, and the historical information is fascinating. The moments from the past Taylor uses to move the plot forward clearly communicate her love of history and looking at what we know from different points of view. In particular, the scene with Marie-Antoniette is particularly fascinating, changing her from a name to a person, the afternoon of her arrest changes from a fact to vivid reality.
Throughout the story, Taylor gives us strong female characters in positions of authority. They are capable, assertive, and intelligent. They are respected in their position and have earned it through merit. Commander Hay is in charge of the Time Police with a forward-looking approach and a novel approach to getting her own way. I love her parts as she navigates the politics of her organisation, she is as humorous as she is driven. I really feel her pain at the antics of the officers around her.
Hard Time is perfect for anyone who loves fast-paced action with strong, memorable characters who drive the story forward with a combination of ingenuity and incompetence. Highly recommended.