Gomer Pound is a former professor of music and computer geek who uses his knowledge of programming, history and the world of higher education to construct a lively mystery with political implications.
Jeff Cooper’s career from student to originator of a conceptual view of history known as the “pendulum principal” is the primary focus of this book. Jeff develops what he calls a “synchronoptical” model of history, characterized as threads of creative tension forming a tapestry focusing on any given historical period. This formulation is co-opted by politicians on the make.
The book is also a love story. Jeff is trapped in a triangle with Eileen, the wife of his colleague and friend, Jim Knight. Jim and Jeff become embroiled in a political movement that takes the Pendulum imagery unto itself to manipulate the powers behind the votes. Jeff is shown to be a dangerously naïve player, so enthralled by his own intellectual notions that he is unable to see the damage that is being wrought in the name of his cherished concepts.
Inevitably both Jeff and Jim will be swept up in events. Their ingenuous approach doesn’t take into account the sinister motivations and ruthlessness of their political puppet masters. Their separate but similar downfalls leave only Eileen to count the ultimate costs. Dutiful to one man, deeply involved in a passionate relationship with the other, she will survive. But what of the pendulum, inevitably fated to swing back?
Taking place as it does in the realm of academia, this novel will not prove meaty enough for some, while others will flag trying to keep up with a plot that moves along at a rushed, almost exhausting, clip. There is more concept than concrete. Mr. Pound does his best to move the reader from Point A to Point B, but still one is sometimes left wondering how to account for the scene changes. Though the book is segmented into time frames, it still has an awkward feel when so much happens without being fully described as the years pass. There is no lack of plot twists, and the reader is not always able to care about characters drawn with broad, almost slapdash brushstrokes as each one speeds through the story to its rather nihilistic conclusion.
One hopes that in future offerings, Pound will be able to rein himself in and concentrate on character and setting to build a sound foundation for the story. This book goes too quickly and superficially around too many curves, and for the average reader, the intellectual carrot is not sufficient incentive to keep reading to the end.