by Ericka Scott, historical/time-travel (2008)
Dark Eden Press, $3.50, ISBN N/A
Nicola Tesla is credited in history books as the person whose many researches into electricity and electromagnetism heralded a new age when it comes to advances in nuclear research, energy production, and wireless communication. He was known as the father of the twentieth century, but alas, his tendency to insert various occult and pseudoscientific elements in his research papers, especially later in his life, along with his support for eugenic programs eventually alienated him from his peers and the poor man died a pauper.
In Mojave Moon, author Ericka Scott has Nicola Tesla involved in the development of a mysterious black box thing that the US Army is testing out in secret. I wonder if the author is using a "What if?" scenario where the US War Department actually took up the man's offer to research a super death ray weapon involving concentrated particle beams.
In 2007, our heroine Mia Fairbanks is searching for any information that can help her learn more about her grandmother. Having known only orphanages and foster families all her life, she has made it her mission to discover as much as she can about her family. The biggest clues she has is a newspaper clip of Betty, a waitress at the Blythe Skies Ranch eatery, being arrested for spying for the Germans and a letter from Betty to Mia's mother protesting her innocence and claiming that she had evidence of the identity of the real spy, only the evidence alas was gone when the Ranch burned down. She also has a locket that is said to belong to her grandmother. While she is pretending to be a waitress to infiltrate a party where there may be people she can talk to about her grandmother, Mia's locket somehow opens (she has been trying to open it for the last few years but failed every time) and soon after she finds that she has been transported back in time to the Blythe Skies Ranch in 1943.
Mia realizes that she has been transported back in time to a few hours after Betty's rape and murder. She is confused at first because as far as her research showed, Betty was incarcerated as a spy. Didn't the Ranch burn down? Did the Army cover up the murder? Realizing that this is most likely the best opportunity she has to learn more about the events leading up to her grandmother's death as well as anything else about Betty, she begins to channel her inner Nancy Drew.
Our US Army pilot hero Jake Sands may be the last person to see Betty alive. He's definitely the last person to have slept with Betty though and now he's shaken to discover a woman who looks so much like Betty working at the Ranch. This is shortly after he realizes that someone has poisoned his beer. Is this strange woman the person out to kill him? Heaven knows, Jake is one of the pilots involved the top secret project involving Nicola Tesla's mysterious black box. Could she be some kind of spy?
Mojave Moon is a novella but unfortunately for it, the length is not adequate to allow the author to develop her story. The build-up is good, but the story just as quickly winds down towards a rushed and anticlimatic resolution involving crazy bitch villains and main characters who jump into bed and claim to be in love without any rhyme or reason. Even the black box thing is not adequately explained, leaving me to wonder what the heck all the fuss is about. I can't connect to the characters because there is no room for adequate character development - I only know that Mia's constant crying gets on my nerves after a while - and the plot is a disappointment given the unsatisfying last few chapters.
Mojave Moon has an interesting premise with plenty of potential, but the execution is somewhat lacking.
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