No man ever steps in the same river twice
Move over Plato, Pythagoras and Parmenides. Make way for Claire North.
Plato gave us his theory of forms, Pythagoras brought us transmigration of the soul beginning a new life in a fresh body (although of course he wasn't the first), and Parmenides explained how reality is one, change is impossible and existence timeless and unchanging.
Claire North, in contrast, philosophises about re-birth in the same body at the same time in an ever so slightly shifting universe. Slight paradigm shifts that have incredibly profound effects. I think she's a Time Lord.
Reading 'The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August' is like stepping into a river of gold, but as the philosopher says, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." And this, when all's said and done simplifies what is a truly magnificent story.
The Cronus Club is a myriad of wandering souls, trickling messages down from the future by means of child to dying adult, child to adult, from a thousand years forward in time, amplifying it down the generations, so that it's entirely possible for events that took place in 2003 to have implications for those people living in, say, 1919.
Or, taking this to the extremes, events that will happen 4000 years in the future could have great significance for those people who lived during the age of ancient Greek philosophy during the 6th & 5th centuries BC. What a concept!
Those implications, however, can be catastrophic. "You can do whatever you like so long as you don't bugger it up for the next lot. So no nuking New York, please, or shooting Roosevelt, even for experimental purposes. We just can't handle the hassle."
One of the marks of a good author is her ability to build a couple of sub-plots around the main plot and then sometimes - but not always - bring them all together at the end. Well, there are a hundred sub-plots in this story, but don't let that put you off because unbelievably it all flows. A period of about 900 years flows effortlessly into about 70 years. Extremely readable.
So is it science fiction? I wouldn't say so. Thriller? Absolutely! You've got a charming, yet evil criminal mastermind and an adventure that lasts several lifetimes. Honestly, buy this book!
Oh, and one last thing. If this story is ever made into a film, Vincent Rankis must at all costs be played by Stephen Fry.