Time and Again.
It's 1970. "It was an ordinary day, a Friday, twenty minutes till lunchtime, five hours till quitting time and the weekend, tine months till vacation, thirty-seven years till retirement. Then the phone rang."
Si Morley, an artist for an advertising agency, receives a visit from a man who enlists his help with an experiment in time travel. Si's girlfriend has a mysterious family letter that was mailed in 1882 and Si asks permission to be sent back to that time to discover what the letter could mean.
It's not really clear how he succeeds, but when he reaches the late 19th century, he meets a vicious blackmailer, a corrupt detective and a beautiful woman. He has been carefully trained not to do anything that would jeopardize future events, but throws caution to the winds when someone he cares about is put in danger. It's a roller coaster ride from then on and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Finney's painstaking attention to historical detail is delightful. Instead of idealizing the past he shows both the good and the bad. Morley is struck by how carefree and "alive" people seem to be in the 1880's compared to present day New Yorkers. Yet he also is appalled by the number of people who are lame and pock-marked since vaccines for small pox and polio had not been discovered yet.
One of the important themes of the book is the ease with which scientists and world leaders play God, without much thought to consequences. In spite of the repeated use of God's name as a swear word, this novel was terrific. A rollicking good story!