The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas review – a dazzling genre-defying debut

Era-hopping sex, trauma and therapy … four scientists make a world-changing discovery in a novel that breaks the rules of detective fiction, space and time

A door bolted from the inside, blood, bullets and and unidentifiable corpse. These are the classic ingredients of the locked-room mystery, but when Kate Mascarenhas deploys them in her genre-defying debut, she doesn’t play by the rules of detective fiction, or even the rules of space and time. As the novel opens, we learn that time travel was invented in 1967 by a four-strong group known as the Pioneers. There’s aristocratic cosmologist Margaret; Lucille, who has “come from the Toxteth slums to make radio waves travel faster than light”; enigmatic Grace, “an expert in the behaviour of matter”; and Barbara, a specialist in nuclear fission.

Their discovery is, of course, world-changing, but only some of them will get to share in it. Time travel throws ...