John A. Heldt is an imaginative writer. He takes us on a visual tour of his character’s surroundings and floods our senses with colorful descriptions. Some of which are important for later reference. I was very intrigued by the main question of the story, which is: what would you do if you found yourself in another place and time, in love, and then found out you were able to return home? Yeah, that’s a toughie.
No author is perfect, and I was frustrated by a few stumbling blocks, such as the beginning of the novel where two college buddies devour their meals, including a pastie and a 24-ounce porterhouse, hit the road for almost an hour, and then synchronize their watches to 11:35 am. No, the times don’t match up, unless they entered the steakhouse at 8:00 am. Sorry, I can’t let that pass, it irks me. Fortunately for us, Mr. Heldt’s story is easily strong enough to ignore what is actually a minor glitch that probably doesn’t bother anyone but me. And then it gets really good.
Although The Mine starts with college buddies Joel and Adam at a diner, the turn-back-the-clock happens quickly, and Joel finds himself abandoned and alone after exploring an old mine. It takes a while before he realizes everything has changed. He’s gone back 60-years to a time when his cell phone isn’t of much use. Since Joel is fairly bright and fairly sure of himself, he takes no time bemoaning his new fate because he’s always ready for another adventure.
The pacing of the story is just right and you don’t have to wait very long for the next event to capture your interest. Descending into the past brings Joel to a new appreciation for life and love, and those he meets have importance to his future, whether he says buried in the past, or finds a way home. For readers, each person in the book is important and has a character and persona of their own. That’s important for any book and doubly important here.