Review: The Day Tripper by James Goodhand

cover of The Day TripperThe Day Tripper by James Goodhand
MIRA (March 19, 2024)
368 pages; $28.99 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Who says a time traveling novel can’t be scary and also a feel-good story? To find a true comparison to this fun book is tough, but pieces of Ray Bradbury’s A Sound Of Thunder, plus Rewind and Groundhog Day as if written by Stephen King might give some ideas.

Alex Dean had it all back in 1995 — a beautiful woman, a seat at Cambridge University, and a fun life of playing clubs for money. His performances garner him women, food, and drinks as he meanders through the scene without a care. It’s a great life and one he wonders if it’ll last.

It won’t.

A brutal attack leaves him on death’s door — which somehow triggers a cosmic event. Instead of dying, he finds himself transporting through time. The chapters then flip back and forth from 1999 to 2010 to 2019 and back. Several times. A once-promising future gone, Alex is now homeless. He wakes up on a sidewalk, a guitar case nearby, and realizes he’s been busking for money from passersby. He’s older and discovers everything in his life went wrong.

Holly, the girl who he fell in love with back in 1995, has been killed. Alex has no memory of what happened, yet he’s tied to it somehow. Did he kill her? All signs point to guilt, especially memories of prison. With each random trip, Alex seeks to discover what he did, how he caused her death, and why two mysterious characters keep reappearing in his life. Which of them knows something about this temporal plight — if either? He seeks them out in every timeline, hoping one will help him figure out how to stop pinballing through changing lives.

Also, the man who caused his near death which likely triggered the events — why is he now showing up? Hoping to finish the job, or something worse?

Goodhand managed to write an entertaining tale that is both endearing and suspenseful with a good deal of cosmic horror tossed in to create a novel that has something for everyone. It’s a win for all genres, somehow reminiscent of King’s 11/22/63 but lighter and without global implications.

Recommended for a fun read.

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