Darryl Brock, Author . Plume $14 (400p) ISBN 978-0-452-28356-5

Brock's sequel to If I Never Get Back promises the quaint historical charm that distinguished its predecessor, but some erratic plotting and a decision to virtually eliminate the baseball motif hurts the follow-up effort. The novel begins with time-traveling protagonist Samuel Fowler stuck in a San Francisco mental hospital after an extended flashback to Cincinnati in 1869, where he was a member of the first professional baseball team, the Red Stockings. Fowler remains haunted by his ill-fated affair with Caitlin O'Neill, and when his doctor challenges him to verify her existence, he sets off again for Cincinnati, where an auto accident sends him hurtling back to the 19th century. A visit to Samuel Clemens helps Fowler track down Caitlin in a Nebraska settlement, and Fowler takes up a quest to save the settlement from a thuggish, corrupt senator whose land scams threaten to destroy it. The early scenes in which Fowler goes back in time are deftly handled, as are Fowler's attempts to rekindle his romance with O'Neill. But his battles with the senator and his brutish cohorts seem far-fetched and unfocused, especially when the villains kidnap Caitlin's son and Fowler attempts a ludicrous rescue based on advice from George Custer. With this uneven plot, Brock's competent but somewhat diluted sequel can't match its inspired forerunner. Agent, Laurie Harper, the Sebastian Agency. 4-city author tour. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/02/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
Paperback - 393 pages - 978-1-58394-188-1
Open Ebook - 243 pages - 978-1-58394-390-8
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