Extracted (Extracted Trilogy Book 1), by R. R. Haywood
This unique and luxuriantly long book takes a time travel trope and turns it into a fascinating character study that just keeps coming at you with new twists and new developments.
The basics are simple. Three extraordinary heroes are extracted from their own timelines moments before their deaths. They are taken back to an era of dinosaurs in a closed compound. They learn that time travel was finally conquered in 2061 (well after their own deaths) and was supposed to be kept secret. However, two trips were taken to 2111. In the first visit the world seemed to be progressing normally. In the second trip the world had experienced a horrible war. It seems clear that someone has created a second time machine and has altered events in a horrible way. The three are asked to travel the timeline to try to determine who changed the future and how, and to use their unique skills to neutralize the change.
The three include “Mad” Harry Madden, a legendary British commando from World War II who single-handedly brought down a Nazi submarine base in Norway.
Safa Patel is a British police officer assigned to protect the prime minister at 10 Downing Street. She manages to kill a whole squad of terrorists attempting to assassinate the PM.
Safa’s great hero is Ben Ryder, an insurance investigator who is about to board the London underground when he realizes terrorists are trying to plant a bomb. In the flash of a few seconds he manages to kill all of them but dies trying to drag the body loaded with explosives off the tracks.
Harry and Safa are trained to be heroic. They agree to help the fairly oddball people who invented the time device and are now trying to fix this problem. Ben is a different story. As a teen he also managed to kill five gang members committing a horrible crime. Ben isn’t trained, he simply has natural instincts that have made him an excellent investigator and, when motivated while under stress, a heroic killing machine. He has instincts but no training. He’s out of shape, resistant to training, and would rather return to his own timeline and stay dead than take part in this plan.
As character studies of the three in conflict and trying to come together the book might be interesting enough. Woven through this part of the story is a mysterious group also traveling through time trying to figure out the heroes’ plans, killing and torturing their way through the information search
The book has excellent written action, three-dimensional characters far above average, and a story that keeps pouring out new ideas. With an average writer the story would be flash bang with a few adventures to spice things up. Haywood was amazingly inventive here. My own experience was thinking “Oh, things are probably coming to a close soon” and then having the book take a brand new turn. I already have the sequel and can’t wait to get to it.