Review of ‘Convergence’ by Thomas Settimi

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If you enjoy alternative histories, then this interesting addition to the genre could well be for you.
Lieutenant Nathaniel Booth couldn’t know how his life was about to change as he and Lincoln Hayes completed their air mission in June 1968 over Laos and headed back to aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. Thirty-five years later, when Professor Roger Atwood and his assistant find Hayes’ flying helmet inside a Confederate footlocker from the American Civil War, they find themselves untangling a mystery spanning a time discontinuity of 105 years – from Vietnam to the Battle of Gettysburg.
This is an engaging read – once you get past the first fifty-something pages. Settimi is an experienced technical writer with an extensive knowledge of military history and hardware. And it shows. There is far too much technical information crammed into those vital, opening pages where the story and characters should be connecting with the reader – rather than frightening her away with the eye-boggling detail that holds up the action. If I hadn’t been reviewing the book, I’m not sure that I would have persevered. And that would have been a shame. Because, once Settimi gets into the swing of the story, the pace picks up and draws the reader in.
That said, this is definitely a plot-driven book. The characters are there to serve the narrative – not the other way around. Whilst I am aware that the current fashion is for character-driven stories, there is a solid readership out there for well-written, interesting plots that whisk you along. And once you get past those first fifty pages, this book certainly delivers a fast-paced story with some intriguing twists that had me guessing right up to the end.
Settimi gives us a vivid picture of life and conditions for a Confederate prisoner of war and the character of Nathaniel Booth is by far the most detailed and heroic protagonist in the book. And his penchant for using a series of details to build his scenes comes into its own as we follow Booth’s attempt to save Abraham Lincoln from assassination in this alternate version of American history.
By the manner in which the book concludes, I’m guessing that Settimi intends to write a sequel. If so, I strongly urge him to find an editor with a thick red pen to assist him in cutting out unnecessary technical detail.

5/10

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