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In Retrospect ~ Review with Excerpt

In Retrospect
By Ellen Larson

Merit Rafi was the Select the one chosen to be the Retrospector.  But when war ravaged what was left of the world she became a fighter - until she was betrayed by one of her own.

When the man who betrayed her is brutally murdered the fragile peace that is could be lost unless the murderer is found and quickly brought to justice.  But how can Merit work for the Rasakans the people who destroyed her world as she knew it?

But as the only surviving Retrospector Merit has no choice.  Adding to her dilema is the fact that she will have to work with the man who once held her heart, a man who is the enemy hiding behind his shield - a shield that he vowed to never wear when she knew him before.  Before the war changed them.

In Retrospect is set in the future in the year 3324 and Oku time travel technology has become the prize.  Whomever controls Retrospect technology will control the world.  And the murder that Merit is to investigate will determine ultimate control.

In Retrospect is a book that has many aspects that will appeal to a number of readers.  Time-travel, romance, murder mystery, and world in peril. 

As one character states "You have to be willing to die to change history."  But can history be changed, can the future be affected by what one might do by going back?  Or is it already set in stone?  Merit is about to find out whether she wants to or not...

With glimpses into Merit's past throughout the book, one gets a sense of who she was and why she has become the woman that she now is.  An exciting read that will keep you guessing as to the outcome.

I was provided a ARC of this book in conjunction with this PUYB Blog Tour, but all opinions expressed are my own

For sensitive readers there are brief passages of language that may be offensive

In Retrospect
About the Author:
Ellen Larson’s first story appeared in Yankee Magazine in 1971. She has sold stories to AHMM (Barry Award finalist) and Big Pulp and is the author of the NJ Mysteries, The Hatch and Brood of Time and Unfold the Evil, featuring a sleuthing reporter. Her current book is In Retrospect, a dystopian mystery (Carefully crafted whodunit -PW starred). Larson lived for seventeen years in Egypt, where she developed a love of different cultures. She is editor of the Poisoned Pencil, the YA mystery imprint. These days she lives in an off-grid cabin in upstate New York, enjoying the solitude.

Visit her at

About the Book:
Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of
a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder
she would gladly have committed herself.

The year is 3324. In the region once known as Turkey, the Rasakans have attacked
the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander,
General Zane, abruptly surrenders.

Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades
are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans work secretly to
gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered,
the Rasakans exert their control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of
Forensic Retrospection.

Merit, though reinstated to her old job by the despised Rasakans, knows she is only
a puppet. If she refuses to travel back in time to identify Zane’s killer, her family
and colleagues will pay the price. But giving in to Rasakan coercion means giving
them unimaginable power. She has only three days to make this morally wrenching
choice; three days to change history.

As the preliminary investigation progresses, Merit uncovers evidence of a wider
plot. How did the Rasakans defeat the technologically superior Oku? Why did
the Oku surrender prematurely? How did the Rasakans discover her true identity?
Merit realizes she will only find the answers by learning who killed the traitor,
General Zane.

In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-
apocalyptic future.

Purchase Your Copy from Amazon.

Prologue: Three Days Later

Monday, 17 April 3324, 1:10 PM

A stately room. Black-lacquered cabinets flank a massive desk. Maps and
oil paintings hang on pale green walls. Burgundy woodwork. Globe, grandfather
clock, and fireplace with brass andirons cast in the shape of lions, teeth bared. A
room steeped in the past. Except in the sunny east bay, where a closet-sized
polyhedron floats a handsbreadth above the carpet.

Three men in sage-green uniforms will stare at the Vessel. One, a sneering
rat of a man, will peer through the open hatch and see the sole of a boot.
“Is she dead?” he will ask, hopping closer to get a better look.

“Back off, snitch!” The man with the sentry’s insignia on sleeve of his beefy
arm will step in front of the hatch and shove him back.

The snitch will stagger against the clock, but he has seen enough. He will
grin as he straightens the curved blue half-shield that covers his forehead and eyes.
“I knew she’d botch it. I told her—I warned her! Skank. Who’s a heap of dung

A choking sound will escape the throat of the red-head at the comm. His
mouth will work as he looks pleadingly at the sentry.

The sentry will shake his head and glance at the thing on the floor of the
Vessel. “She’s gone. Torrified.” He will take a deep breath, hold it, then exhale
explosively through clenched teeth. “Get the Marshall. Now!”

Blinking away his tears, the red-head will remove his comm-set with
shaking hands and stumble away.

“Hey!” the snitch will cry. “That’s my job! I get to tell the Marshall, not you!
Hey!” He will follow the red-head through the door and down the stairs beyond.
The sentry will wait for the tap of footsteps to fade, then squeeze through
the hatch.

Above the console, the mission chronometer will show all zeros. The lower
panel will be mangled, as if someone has bashed it in with a heavy object. He will
glance at the pilot’s chair, unclamped and upside down.

He will kneel beside what is left of the body.

Except for the black pendant on its silver chain, pillowed in the ash that had
been her neck, there will be nothing there to remind him of the woman he had
known. He will ease the plasma gun from her holster and note that two bolts have
been fired. His brow will furrow and his gaze will dart from the canted walls to the
crumpled sage uniform. Then he will grunt and replace the gun.
“Thanks, Reb,” he will whisper.

The sound of running feet will remind him he has no business being in the

He will clap the ashes from his hands as he rises. “I guess you got your

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