It should be obvious by now that I'm a serious fan of Glen Cook's work. Whether it's the Black Company or a detective in TunFaire or his other, wide reaching works. But into each oeuvre some rain must fall and, unfortunately, A Matter of Time is a book that should have been better. And in the competitive science fiction markets of the 1980's it quickly fell by the wayside.
On a late night in St. Louis detective Norman Cash and his partner find themselves with a body. Still warm on a snowy night the only footprints are the corpses. The more Cash investigates the worse the problem becomes especially when he identifies the dead man as a small time crook who disappeared 50 years ago. And who is Anya Groloch, the old woman who has apparently lived there for a very, very long time.
The story takes place in three times -- 2058, when an accident propels four scientists of an oppressive state through time and probability, -- 1866, when they begin their trek back into the future determined to influence the events to come, and 1975, where the crisis that will shape the future is set to happen.
The story is intricate, and full or temporal twists, but it never seems to gel. The plot is good, the characters are interesting, but the writing is more distracted than Cook's usual standard, and never makes contact with the reader. Even so, it's and interesting volume that should please most of Glen Cook's fans. If you find a used copy at a decent price, pick it up -- Cook at his worst is still well above the current standard for popular fiction.