Book Review: The Steady Running of the Hour

18143778In this mesmerizing debut, a young American discovers he may be heir to the unclaimed estate of an English World War I officer, which launches him on a quest across Europe to uncover the elusive truth. 

Just after graduating college, Tristan Campbell receives a letter delivered by special courier to his apartment in San Francisco. It contains the phone number of a Mr. J.F. Prichard of Twyning Hooper, Solicitors, in London and news that could change Tristan’s life forever.

ashley| Having read a ton of “time-slip” novels, I really loved how The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go started out. The whole concept of Tristan having to prove his lineage in order to accept a trust set up the structure for this kind of story in a bit of a different way, and I always applaud the effort to take on a known concept in a different way.

Things started out quite interesting, seeding in pieces of the past and the story of Ashley and Imogen through Tristan’s discoveries and research. But things very quickly fell off that track and the story of the past told itself, with Tristan’s research really not amounting to much, making the whole time-slip concept kind of unnecessary.

The letters Tristan found didn’t describe anything from the past more than location or a couple of details about what was happening at that time, but nothing uncovered anything about what Ashley and Imogen were going through or feeling. Every chapter that described the events of the past were just being told, as a chapter, it may as well just have been a single-layered story about Ashley and Imogen without anything to do with Tristan.

The plot points aside from discovering Tristan’s heritage, specifically his meeting Murielle, also seemed flat. In the end she begged him not to leave her and you got the impression that some kind of love had grown between them, but you didn’t see any other evidence of that growing beforehand. I get that the point in the end is that Tristan goes back to her and doesn’t make the same mistake his great-grandfather Ashley made, but I don’t believe it. I didn’t see a romance bloom between them; they just seemed like distant travelers traveling in the same direction.

My biggest issue with this book was the ending. I feel that way too much time was spent describing Ashley’s experience on the mountain and it seemed like the plot of the book completely changed. Knowing every detail about Ashley’s climb didn’t advance the story any, it didn’t answer any questions, it didn’t even give any solid details on his fate. It just stole the attention away from everything else that we had read about up until that point and kind of confused the whole story line. Not to mention the open endedness, nothing is really answered at all and it’s just kind of like all the strings are tied up except the ones that you were actually reading about.

I really wanted to like this book and the first part of it was quite good and had huge potential. Go is a great writer and can weave together a story beautifully, but the main focus of this got lost in a number of other story lines and in the end, everything just kind of imploded.

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