Mike Resnick has been writing and editing for years and years and years. I find, looking over his bibliography, that while I’ve read many anthologies edited by him, I’ve not yet read any of his own books. I wish I had so that I had some point of comparison. I have to believe he’s a better storyteller than this book presents.
Eddie Raven and his girlfriend, Lisa, walk into an odd shop in Manhattan where Lisa gets shot and Eddie hears a disembodied voice tell him to run. He does, until he wonders if Lisa survived. A visit to the hospital confirms that one man from the shop is dead and the other who had taken the bullet meant for Eddie - just out of surgery but not expected to live long…but no Lisa. While there, the unconscious man advises Eddie again to flee and a panicked Eddie does just that by making a mystic sign and speaking unknown words…only to appear a moment later in a bar he’s never seen before but knows intimately a bar in Casablanca.
Following the familiar storyline, Eddie finds Lisa only she doesn’t know him and says her name is Ilsa. The key to surviving a night in Casablanca and escaping with Lisa/Ilsa involves, of course, the letters of transit. Accomplishing that, Eddie then finds himself in a very strange version of Oz including a Lisa who doesn’t remember him…and it just continues in the same vein through a couple more fictional worlds. After joining forces with a formidable ally (I can’t name without a spoiler), he begins to get an idea on how to stop the mad journey and put an end to the puppet master pulling his strings.
It was a fast read and well-written. I just found the plot pretty pointless. It felt like the Mad Hatter’s Wild Teacup ride at Disneyland; the reader is never told who is causing Eddie to jump from world to world or why. There are hints that Eddie is more than he seems but he never displays any awareness of that or has any memory flashes to tantalize the reader.
This is the first of a trilogy and the second book has already published. Unfortunately for any readers who enjoy this, the last book might not appear since Mr. Resnick has shuffled off this mortal coil. ~~ Catherine Book