Janet Raye Stevens – Stevens has two series pertinent to this page. The first focuses on Addie Brandt, in A Moment after Dark. It’s not easy to blend sci-fi/fantasy with WWII-era mystery in the vein of ’40s films, but Stevens pulls it off. You have the wit, romance, and dark suspense of films like All through the Night and The Fallen Sparrow, while you also have a government agency setting out to form a group or people with special powers that hints at both the X-Men and The X-Files. With Addie Brandt, whose special “sight” enables her to inadvertently “see” the attack on Pearl Harbor in advance, you are drawn into a world of noir twists and double-crosses obscuring who can be trusted. Stevens’ main character is an intelligent young woman struggling against self-doubt and social biases, who finds her way and her strength through exciting trials and a prickly romance. The depiction of a New England fishing town in the 1940s is spot on, giving us the gritty world of noir. I look forward to more books in this series.
Now for the second series. I love 1940s-era books and films; I love science fiction. Beryl Blue Time Cop deftly weaves together both in an exciting tale that keeps you guessing how the heroine will work out an almost impossible task of saving history. Beryl Blue is a modern young woman with some well-earned chips on her shoulder, whisked into the role of time cop by a woman from the future. Tasked with preventing a rogue time cop from murdering one of a group of soldiers about to go overseas to fight in WWII, Beryl must try to fit into a world where women are restricted by different morés as much as by clothes, while not messing up history. Writing with a wonderful sense of humor, this author expertly captures the lingo, clothes (including the agony of wearing a girdle!), worldviews, and wartime anxieties. It’s fun and enlightening to share with Beryl a modern woman’s discomfort with trying to fit into a foreign time period – and I’m not just talking about the girdles. Stevens gives us characters we can care about and handles Beryl’s trials with humor and insight. Along the way, Stevens effectively develops a bittersweet romance between her main character and the man she must save that recaptures the bantering affection so delightful in classic-era films. Stevens’s clever trickling out of clues as to whether Beryl will succeed and why she was chosen for this dangerous task keep you reading avidly. The startling but well-developed plot twists leave you hungering for the next installment of the Beryl Blue series, expected in late 2022: It’s Been a Long, Long Time.