To be obvious, The Trouble with Time by Lexi Revellian is about time travel. The reader should keep this in mind and pay attention to the chapter, or segment headings. There are 43 of these headings. Our time travelers journey to the past and the future as they attempt to alter events or not alter events or make attempts, sort of like bookmarks, to give themselves, friends, and enemies, clues as to what they should accomplish on their travels. Readers have to be aware of the “readers present time” or there will be a lot of going back and forth in the book to catch up.
Jace and Kayla work for a government agency that seeks out and punishes illegal time travelers. They are going on a raid with Scott, a new member of the team. Quinn, a legendary, bigger-than-life government investigator is the leader of the team. Any time traveler who is not part of the government is an illegal time traveler. Time travel had been outlawed by the government in 2032. Their target is McGuire, who has somehow acquired one of the very few devices that can be used for time travel. TiTrav looks like a watch. Pushing a couple of buttons transports the wearer immediately; this makes time travelers difficult to catch.
The raid has elements of both success and failure. Farouk and Kayla work as a team; Quinn, Jace, and Scott are the other team. McQuire is spotted. Jace tries to talk him into surrender but shots are fired, McGuire is killed, the TiTrav is recovered and entered into government evidence logs. But who shot McGuire? The blame is immediately placed on Scott, the new guy. But Scott is an expert marksman, he knows he did not fire the kill shot. Quinn is an Olympic class marksman; he claims not to have fired the kill shot and, as a leader, no one can dispute the claim. But most importantly, the TiTrav has disappeared. Someone has stolen it, obviously Scott. Or maybe not.
Jace and Kayla are important characters. They ae in love up until the time Jace disappears. After being kidnapped and marooned in the future for five years, he will return to find Kayla is in a relationship with Quinn. Conflict. Scott will leave the agency. Suspicions that he was the TiTrav thief drove him out of the agency. His character in this novel is no longer important, but this is a series; he may become important in a future novel. Conflict resolved. He is not important due to the disappearance of Jace, who is now the prime suspect as the thief of the TiTrav.
Jace is sure he is not the thief, but he has to find some way to return from five years in the future. He needs a TiTrav. How can he get one? By chapter nine (out of 43 so this is not a spoiler) we know that Quinn was the one who shot Mcquire, that Quinn was the one who stole the TiTrav, and it was Quinn who kidnapped Jace and took him five years into the future. But Quinn had a character flaw, a weakness for women tied to a conviction that all women had a weakness for him.
In earlier time travels, Quinn had discovered that humanity ceased to exist in 2170. Due to some sort of contraceptive virus, people had stopped having children several years earlier and humans became extinct. Quinn reasoned that if he found the person responsible for the virus (in the past) he could travel to the past and alter the present and future. He could save the world. Quinn traveled to the past and found Floss, a person Quinn considered capable of making alterations in time. Quinn fell in love with Floss. She, however, just wanted to return to her time and be with her family. Quinn was the obvious answer. He had traveled back in time to get her; he must have a TiTrav. She would look for it, find it, travel forward to meet Jace and the pair would work together to solve the multiple conflicts. How can Floss get home? How will Kayla react to the reappearance of Jace? How can Quinn be removed from his powerful position to a more appropriate one in prison? How can humankind be saved? And what about Ryker?
Ryker is a computer nerd and techie who appears at various points in the story with a technological innovation that moves the story forward. He has ties with the underworld, the police, and Quinn. A benevolent guy who just wants to be left alone with his gadgets, he is concerned with his own survival above all.
This is a cleverly done book with lots of surprises. It is not done in a linear fashion; the reader has to pay attention. Familiar time travel issues, such as meeting oneself in the past, are presented in new ways. I will read more books in this series.