Mystery, SciFi, Alternate History—It’s All Here

by jenn 0 Comments
Bruce Bretthauer

Reviewed by:
On April 16, 2015
Last modified:February 25, 2017


The Gina Stone stories are set in a combination alternate world/alernate history framework that might sound confusing at first, but is actually very well posited and handled. A portal was somehow opened between present-day Seattle and an alternate history about 100 years in the past. In this novel, Gina Stone acts as a police officer in both worlds travelling back and forth between our world and the world of New Essex. I accidentally read the second book in this series first, but it really didn't matter. Mr. Bretthauer did a great job of keeping the story moving while providing just enough information from the first book so that I was never confused or frustrated. This is a great mystery story with murders happening in Seattle that are then turning up in New Essex and Gina is the only one who can figure out both what's going on and how to stop it. I found it a page-turner with a lot of twists and turns in the plot.

Different World: A Gina Stone MysteryThis story is hard to describe. It’s an alternate history story, but it’s set in modern day Seattle. It’s a modern crime investigation, but the deaths are being discovered in the 1800s. It’s science fiction, but it’s also a murder mystery.

I started reading this book and immediately got hooked. The main character, Gina Stone, is engaging and interesting. She presents a believable portrait of a beleaguered police officer who has decided to take a less stressful job in a small town. It’s just that her small town is New Essex and it’s across a portal in a world where the American revolution never happened.

This book brings up interesting questions about what it was like to live in the Victorian era. What was it like to be a woman at that time? And what would it be like for a modern woman to be transported there?

This is Book Two But It Doesn’t Matter

One thing I didn’t realize when I started reading this book on my Kindle was that it is book two in the series. I had also purchased book one The Alternate Door (buy on Amazon ), but opened Different World: A Gina Stone Mystery first. A few pages in I realized that I had opened book two, but I was already hooked and so continued to read. While reading book one will probably answer some minor questions I had, this book was very clear about what happened, how Gina ended up in New Essex and so on. Reading the books out of is not a problem.

Mr. Bretthauer does an excellent job of passing on required information in such a way that you don’t even realize he’s doing it. And yet he wasn’t so descriptive that I feel like I know the whole plot of The Alternate Door. I am looking forward to reading that book next.

A Mystery in a Science Fiction Novel

I love this. I love mysteries and I love science fiction, so to have a book with both is great. For this book the point was more the mystery than the science, so much more detail was spared on how the crime scenes looked, what the suspects might be doing, and how Gina and her partners were going to solve the case.

This book was especially fun because of the alternate history aspects. Since Gina was living in a Victorian-era town in the Pacific Northwest, she had to wear long skirts in her role as a police matron. Her former Seattle partner regularly expressed incredulity at the idea of her ever wearing a skirt, so he was particularly surprised at it. I did question the idea that a rough and tumble tom-boy as Gina seemed to be would change her mind on skirts and end up preferring them. But that is probably my own personal biases showing. The book seemed to make a lot of assumptions about women that I wasn’t sure wholly applied, but overall Bretthauer does a good job of portraying his female characters well but not stereotypically.

The only other thing that got a little tiring was the constant fear of “the government” finding out about the portals. Gina was forever warning the people who knew about the portal not to tell because “the government” would take them over. I wasn’t sure what she was worried about, beyond vague conspiracy theories.

This is a great book. And for $3.50 it’s also a great price. It was a fast read, but not so fast that I was frustrated at the end. This was fun and interesting, and I will definitely be picking up more Gina Stone mysteries as they come out. Luckily I have book one still to read!

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