BOOK REVIEW: THREE DAYS TO NEVER
Time travel, communicating with ghosts, a videotape labeled Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Shakespeare's play The Tempest, the Mossad, Einstein, Charlie Chaplin--a weapon of war that potentially could be more devastating than the atomic bomb--these are just some of the elements that add up to the extremely well-written genre-crossing thriller Three Days To Never, the latest novel by Tim Powers. Twelve-year-old Daphne Marrity discovers the Pee-wee Herman videotape in her recently deceased grandmother's shed when she and her father Frank explores it searching for gold Daphne's "Grammar" had said was buried in the bricks. Little does she realize that only the very first scenes on the tape are from Pee-wee's movie, and the rest of it is an odd and disturbing film by Charlie Chaplin. It was his attempt, along with his later movie, City Lights, to travel in time.
The Mossad and a competing agency known as the Vespers have been highly interested in anything to do with psychic abilities, time travel, and Einstein for many decades, and they both are out to be the first to claim as their own any secrets that the Marritys might learn or find. The Marrity's it turns out, have familial links to Albert Einstein. Their Grammar, who raised Frank and his sister, was Liersal Marity before adding the second "r" to her last name. She was Einstein's illegitimate daughter, and her son was a baby that resulted when Einstein tried his hand at traveling through time. The baby is an exact genetic duplicate of Einstein, and was one of many babies that result from traveling in time. They usually last for just a few seconds, then fade out of existence--but, his daughter saw one, took it away with her, and raised it. This baby, Derek, when he's grown up, becomes Frank's father.
Frank, a version of him from a possible future timeline, has traveled back in time from 2006 to 1987, the year Three Days To Never takes place. He tells Frank that he's Derek, Frank's father, who disappeared from the scene in 1955. Frank has hated his father ever since then, believing that he abandoned him and his sister and caused his mother to commit suicide. The old version of Frank's purpose in going back in time is to change his life so that he's rich, happy, not an alcoholic, and to make sure Daphne never reaches adulthood. Daphne, in his timeline--one of them--lives in a trailer park with him, also becomes an alcoholic when she gets older, and ends up running over his leg and causing him to have a limp. They never develop the psychic link that the younger Frank has with his daughter. The older Franks feels Daphne becomes a "monster" and is one of the biggest reasons his life has progressively grown worse.
Three Days To Never is an amazing novel, combining enough historical facts about Einstein's life and work and his friendship with Charlie Chaplin together with fantasy/sci-fi to make for a plausible, page-turning thriller. The characters and the motives they have in both the Mossad and the Vespers that Powers writes about are very interesting in their own rights. One of my favorites of the Vespers (the "bad guys" of the novel, to an extent), Charlotte Sinclair, had psychic abilities as a child and become blind, losing both eyes, when a battery exploded in her face. She can "see" still, though, using the eyes of anyone who is within 100 yards of her. If thrillers are your thing, and you like ones that combine history and are genre-crossing, then Three Days To Never is a book that you'll love. It is one of the best books I've read lately, which is saying a lot, really. It'll keep your interest from the beginning to the end, and ensure that you will stay awake late into the night reading it. It's the kind of book you don't want to put down, and one I highly recommend.
REVIEWED BY DOUGLAS R. COBB
Thanks for visiting!