04/10/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT
the artist turned time traveler (last seen working for the secret government experiment called the Project) and whisks him from the 19th century, where he has been living contentedly with his wife, Julia, and son Willy, to present-day New York City.
Still determined to test Einstein's theory that the past exists even though we can't see it, Maj. Ruben Prien persuades Morley to transport himself back to 1912. His mission: Find the mysterious diplomat code-named Z, "a guy Roosevelt and Taft sent to Europe," and insure his safe passage home bearing a confidential dossier that could prevent World War I. To complicate things, Morley discovers that Z is scheduled to sail for New York aboard the Titanic.
Except for a few clandestine kisses, Morley's latest trip lacks the romance of his first, and his complicated plot relies too much on coincidence. But Finney has a dazzling way with descriptive passages and lets his talents loose recounting a topsy-turvy flight over Manhattan in a rickety biplane, a lively excursion into Broadway's theater district and a sail aboard the Mauretania, the famed ocean liner "with the manners and deportment of a great lady." Illustrations of old New York enrich this magical return to the early 20th century. (Simon & Schuster, $23)