Plan for The Worst by Jodi Taylor
Headline, pb, £8.99
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Disaster is the middle name for the St. Mary’s historians, good-intended historians keen to accurately capture history over the victor’s exaggerated boasting. Its so expected, they plan for it. However, a seemingly innocent jump back to the Tower of London 1483, the last day the Plantagenet princes were seen, throws everything Dr Maxwell, Max, believes into doubt. Stranded in time, Max questions her superiors’ motivations, and when she is returned to her own time, rescued by the Time Police over her own colleagues, she is forced to explore who, if anyone, she can trust.
Plan for the Worst is the eleventh book in the St. Mary Chronicles, and can be a little off-putting if you’re not used to the style. On the surface, it appears to be a collection of events in Max’s life that don’t really have any bearing on one another right up until the last thirty pages or so where everything is brought together. This doesn’t work for me, especially when I go back over the events in the book to see if the clues were there all along, but I missed them, and they aren’t.
On the plus side, it is very funny with excellent banter from characters who have known each other. There are lots of references to previous events, such as Max’s son, Matthew, living with the Time Police for a certain amount of time. However, there are no explanations about why this happened, which can leave a new reader out in the cold. This is not a book to be read without some prior knowledge of the world and its characters.
This felt very much like an end of series book. There are lots of tying up of loose ends, victories over long standing enemies, both foreign and domestic, including Max’s so-called PA who won’t even wash up a cup. Broken relationships are mended, identities revealed and many an old-fashioned disease caught. If I’m right, and this is an end of St Mary’s to focus on the Time Police, with it’s second story Hard Time coming out later this year, something I can’t wait for, then this is a satisfactory ending. Fans of the series will not be disappointed.