Tom Cook, a journalist for Science Alive, is on assignment in Gibraltar photographing an excavation and writing about the discovery of a Neanderthal fossil. While he works, his pregnant girlfriend, Carolyn, takes a tour on a whale watching boat. Tom plans to ask Carolyn to marry him at dinner.
Tom is stunned when a gold ring with a diamond is discovered on the small finger of the fossil hand. It is the exact ring he is carrying in his pocket. How does this modern ring belong on the finger of a 40,000-year-old hand? As Tom ponders this question, the boat that Carolyn is on explodes in the sea below the excavation cave. Through a series of illegal dives, Tom tries to find Carolyn’s body among those trapped in the sunken wreckage of the boat. Without Carolyn and the baby, Tom loses his dream of a family.
During one dive, Tom is propelled through a time warp underwater and surfaces in another world and another time. When he is attacked by dogs and rescued by a Neanderthal man, his adventure begins. The Neanderthals are not what he expected, and as they struggle to learn each other’s language, Tom develops a new appreciation for these prehistoric people. He uses his modern expertise to show them new skills, yet he wonders about his effect on history. In the end, he is caught between returning to his own world and staying with his Paleolithic family.
This is a well written, compelling, and believable story of a man thrust into a world thousands of years before his own. The characters Tom meets are realistic and sympathetic. I became so interested in the Neanderthals that I wanted to learn more about them. This is one of those books I didn’t want to end.