Saturday, May 14, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Nick of Time by Tim Downs

The books I like best make me laugh, cry, gasp, and stay awake at night thinking about the characters. Nick of Time caused me to chuckle. Two or three times.

Nick Polchak, a forensic entomologist, who apparently is more comfortable around dead people than live ones, surprises his few friends by announcing he is getting married to Alena Savard. Alena, a dog trainer who lives alone in a double-wide mobile home in the Virginia woods, has fewer friends than Nick does, if you don't count her pack of dogs.

Nick is a member of the Vidocq Society, a group of forensic specialists who meet in Philadelphia monthly to investigate cold cases. He is enticed to attend a meeting just a week before the wedding. Alena is not too happy about Nick leaving her with all the wedding preparations. But he feels he must go. He gets her a cell phone and, since there is no cell service where she lives, they agree for her to go into Endor each night so he can call her.

At the meeting, Nick learns the friend and fellow member of the Society who had asked him to come to the meeting had been killed. His death is apparently related to a cold case he was working on. While investigating the murder, Nick ends up in jail and is not able to call Alena. When Nick doesn't call for several days, Alena wonders if he is in trouble or is getting cold feet about their marriage. Either way, she decides to find him, taking three dogs with her. One for protection, one for tracking, and one to find a dead body.

For the rest of the book, Nick searches for the killer while Alena searches for Nick. Both stories are interesting. She proves to be as good an investigator as he is and she would have found him quickly if she had not been misdirected by people she trusted.

Does Nick find the killer? Does Alena find Nick? Do they get married? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Nick of Time is well structured and well written. There are places where I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. Unfortunately, there weren't enough such places.

My main criticism of the book is that the characters never came alive for me. Nick and Alena were alike as advertised on the back of the book. But there could have been some differences. Even the supporting characters sounded a lot like Nick to me.

Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” After reading the book, I donated it to a church library.


  1. Very insightful! I wasn't planning on reading this one just because the back blurb didn't grab my attention. I can't really say why but now I am glad I didn't choose it to review :)

  2. Thanks for the comments, Anne. Now I feel responsible for a lost sale. Yikes! But, it is an honest summary of how the book came across to me.