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The eleventh book in the bestselling Chronicles of St Mary's series.

I would have trusted this man with my life. Until a couple of days ago, anyway.

You know what they say - hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Max is quite accustomed to everything going wrong. She's St Mary's, after all. Disaster is her default state. But with her family reunited and a jump to Bronze Age Crete in the works, life is getting back to normal. Well, normal for St Mary's.

And then, following one fateful night at the Tower of London, everything Max thought she knew comes crashing down around her.

Too late for plans. The worst has happened. And who can Max trust now?

413 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 16, 2020

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About the author

Jodi Taylor

65 books4,360 followers
Jodi Taylor is the internationally bestselling author of the Chronicles of St Mary's series, the story of a bunch of disaster prone individuals who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel! She is also the author of the Time Police series - a St Mary's spinoff and gateway into the world of an all-powerful, international organisation who are NOTHING like St Mary's. Except, when they are.

Alongside these, Jodi is known for her gripping supernatural thrillers featuring Elizabeth Cage together with the enchanting Frogmorton Farm series - a fairy story for adults.

Born in Bristol and now living in Gloucester (facts both cities vigorously deny), she spent many years with her head somewhere else, much to the dismay of family, teachers and employers, before finally deciding to put all that daydreaming to good use and write a novel. Over twenty books later, she still has no idea what she wants to do when she grows up.

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5 stars
2,941 (61%)
4 stars
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3 stars
288 (6%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 407 reviews
Profile Image for Sara.
1,057 reviews353 followers
March 27, 2020
ARC received in exchange for an honest review 😁

The last 50 pages made this book for me.

Plan for the Worst, the 11th (!) book in the St Mary's series continues the adventures of Max and Co as they hurtle through time, recording impotent historical events. In this episode we see the return on Kalinda Black, Amazonian former historian and new representative from Thirsk University, with an agenda to get St Mary's to Crete to witness the height of the Minoan empire. Along the way we are sidetracked by a murder mystery into the future and a not so happy jaunt into 15th century England to witness the last day's of the princes in the tower.

As usual, its the characters that really stand out here. After 11 books I know these characters inside out and I love each and every one of them. In particular, these feels like Markham's story. With big changes afoot in his imminent future his character development over the course of these stories really come to the forefront here. He's the joker hiding a mysterious past, and the final payoff is both mind blowing and yet also strangely obvious on reflection. His plot is completed yet also leaves a lot of intrigue for the future.

Another aspect I love about these stories is Jodi's ability to immerse me in whatever historical setting she throws the reader into. Her love of history is incredibly apparent, with little titbits of knowledge and facts scattered throughout her text - just like an true historian storyteller. Her world building is excellent, with plenty of exciting scrapes and adventure to keep Max on her toes. The writing is always enjoyable and fun and never fails to make me feel emotional.

This isn't a perfect story by any means. At certain points I felt I had to suspense my logic in terms of the actions of certain characters, and the plot also falls pray to issues I found in the earlier books in the series in that certain plot points peter out without any real resolution (such as the trip into the future). At times the time lines and the extensive history of the interconnected characters can also get very confusing, and in all honesty I also found

That said I love my annual escape to St Mary's and I know that I'll never not enjoy my time with these characters. The ending truly took me by surprise and I'm super excited to see the repurcussions for our beloved St Mary's team in the next installment.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,862 reviews1,897 followers
October 18, 2020
Hands down...best of the lot

There are few books that, in the downhill slide portion of the ride that's been my life, I would consent to re-read at all. I finished this one, sort of, while in COVID fog. So I needed to re-read it, and also wanted to.

I wonder how you poor things who haven't read it yet can bear to slog through your pitiful, meager "lives." Don't start here, though, or History will be on you like a raptor on a rabbit. In order, there's a good thing, and soon.
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,501 reviews151 followers
May 16, 2020
If you’re new to Jodi Taylor’s bumper ‘The Chronicles of St Mary’s’ series (like I am) I assume (like me) you’ll be totally confused when you first start to read the eleventh in the series, “Plan for the Worst”. With an abundance of unusual but very likeable characters and a unique and utterly mesmerising storyline, it took a while for me to work out exactly who was who and what was what but with a clever ‘dramatis thingummy’ of the cast at the start, you soon pick up where the story is going and where’s it’s been.
The series is based on a bunch of disaster-prone individuals who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. But do NOT call it time travel! Think DC Legends of Tomorrow, Doctor Who and you’ll be on the right track.
I loved how the author used real events in history in her story, I was entranced with the Princes in the Tower, London 1483 and the Minoan Eruption, Crete 1628BC. Loving history as much as I do, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to travel back in time and a job as a historian at St Mary’s would be my ideal vocation.
Every character is unique and original, displaying all four distinct humour styles and I thought Dr Maxwell (Max) with her general persona was just the perfect protagonist for a pretty much male dominated storyline. The dialogue was funny and tongue in cheek yet serious and intelligent and I was literally addicted to the pages as I raced through this book.
Teenagers and adults alike can enjoy this series (only very occasion swearing) but I do believe readers would benefit from reading at least one or two previous books before this one. I definitely want to read more on the calamitous St. Mary’s and I will certainly be seeking out the previous 10 in this fascinating series.

A solid 4 stars for my first foray into the Jodi’s wonderful world of (not) time travel!
Profile Image for Choko.
1,178 reviews2,569 followers
October 16, 2022
*** 4.65 ***

"...Authority always has its own agenda. Authority sells its schemes with the promise it will benefit everyone and what they mean is that it will benefit themselves and their friends. Bugger the little people. Our only function is to pay for everything – including their very expensive mistakes – and then quietly die as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Bastards, every one of them."..."

"..."He made me some cocoa. Apparently, it cures everything except in-growing toenails. No one knows why not."..."

"...‘So, still hovering indecisively at the top of the personality disorder chart, but failing to slither down the slippery slope of insanity, sir.’..."

Enough said!

One of the most entertaining, despite often frustration, series on Time Travel out there. I strongly recommend it!!!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
November 20, 2020
What a wild ride! ... by the end. :) At the beginning, it kinda felt like I was revisiting old plots from previous novels, but that's because they were... in a way. It was a perfect buildup for what eventually became...


This isn't meant to scare you. If you've been following these hapless historians you must already know to expect the unexpected, especially when it's already happened. Yes, old foes show up again. Yes, Max is right to mistrust authority figures. And yes, you really, really need to defrost the chickens.

You had to be there.

And then we get the biggest spoiler in all the books. At long last... we get Markham's name. And oddly enough, it's wickedly good fun.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,588 reviews1,467 followers
June 18, 2021
Max and Company always put on a good show and I find myself thoroughly entertained throughout the entire book. This is a series I really look forward to the all the books in the series as we both move backward and forwards in time and get into all kinds of mischief along the way. No one knows how to tempt Murphy or aggravate their superiors better than Max.
‘So, still hovering indecisively at the top of the personality disorder chart, but failing to slither down the slippery slope of insanity, sir.’

Max always has her hands full. It seems like between her husband, son and the other members of St. Mary’s there is always someone to pull out of the fire. This time the time police have come after Leon for the murder of his former wife. Clive Ronan is still at large out there waiting to die at some moment and Max has a trip planned to watch a whole bunch of people die in an Earthquake/Fire/Tsunami disaster for the ages.
dreadful things do not cease to happen because we look away. Someone has to bear witness. Someone has to remember . .

So much fun to be had hanging out with the history department, R&D, a pampered chicken and even the technical section. There were definitely some great twists in this one and closure to at least one plot line, or is there? Only time will tell.
Profile Image for Steven.
1,052 reviews383 followers
July 28, 2020
Daaaaang this one was good. So many unexpected twists. Some closure on some things. Some new mysteries. And a great reveal!!! I really adore this series so much.

I also have a theory about a newly introduced character that I can't wait to see if it plays out the way I think!!!

Profile Image for Trish.
1,876 reviews3,382 followers
November 20, 2020
Normally, I jumped at a chance to read the latest St. Mary's book. This year, it took me months to pick it up and I actually debated whether I wanted to keep on reading. In the end, I'm glad I did pick this up as it made me laugh and was overall very satisfying.

London, the night before the princes in the Tower of London were supposedly killed, was just warming us up. The main historical event witnessed in contemporary time was Knossos on Crete.

So I was right in my element.

And yet, London and the princes turned out to be majorly important. Spoilery so which is why I shan't say anything else. Apart from this: Dr. Bairstowe has an uncanny talent for doing things that makes my heart drop.

For those who have been following the series from the start, this has a lot of repetition. Or so it seems. I did expect it to have been done on purpose. And I am pleased to report that I was right. But again: no spoilers.

The writing was fast-paced and the characters endearingly quirky as usual, thus welcoming me home right from the beginning (always a nice feeling). Just like Zara Ramm's voice reading the audio version to me in the same wonderful fashion as she's done since book 1.

I'll read the two short stories that came after this volume and then give the spin-off a chance - we'll see how it compares.

I will say one thing that I appreciated very much in this volume: closure. Interpret this as you will but it was time (both for Markham and Clive). ;) We'll see how the story continues now (I'm actually a little suspicious because if you keep a series going for too long, you're eventually running out of steam and quality suffers - I hope this will not happen here).

P.S.: Whatever you do, first defrost the bloody chickens! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,548 reviews2,934 followers
September 10, 2020
As always, I love this series. At this point it's difficult to give too much away, but I did like seeing the test and strain on relationships between Max and the other members of her team, and I also think there's a great moment of revelation here for her at the last few chapters.
This story follows the team to Greece and they see gladiators and bull jumping acts and all sorts of crazy action. It's always a jolly time with these characters and I have a feeling the possibilities are endless for continuing the tales of this world :) 4*s
Profile Image for Vintage.
2,369 reviews421 followers
March 4, 2021
Another 4 stars.

A couple of moments dragged, but overall great with a character betrayal and a very big and very exciting reveal.

Time periods and incidents explored.

15th century England, Tower of London:
A sightseeing jaunt to the period right before the princes in the Tower go missing under the guardianship of Richard III. Their disappearance is still considered one of the greater historical mysteries, and Richard’s innocence is still debated.

Other good books about Richard III are:
The Murders of Richard III A lighthearted contemporary mystery about a bunch of Richard III fanatics.

The Daughter of Time A more traditional British mystery.

1600 BCE Crete:
The crew goes back to Crete in the weeks before Thera erupted and destroyed the island and essentially destroyed Cretan culture. Bad timing.
Profile Image for Bonnie DeMoss.
765 reviews85 followers
April 16, 2020
I’ve read all of Jodi Taylor’s wonderful St Mary’s Chronicles since the beginning. This is Book #11. I’m delighted whenever a new one comes out, but this one is my favorite thus far. It ties up some loose ends, answers some questions, and delivers a whopper of a surprise.

The St Mary’s series is about a rollicking group of time traveling (don’t call it time travel) historians, who “observe historical events in contemporary time.” The first book is called Just One Damn Thing After Another. You will not regret trying this series. You will laugh, cry, and learn about history.
Profile Image for Allie Riley.
382 reviews131 followers
February 21, 2021
An exciting and pivotal instalment in this glorious series, featuring Vikings, the Princes in the tower, a volcanic eruption (twice) in Crete and the evil Clive Ronan, amongst others. Brilliant as ever.
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,360 reviews50 followers
July 11, 2020
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

Those of you who have been following my reviews for a while know that I have always been looking forward to the next book in the St. Mary's series. Their time travel - ehm, investigation of major historical events in contemporary time - is always so much fun.

However, this book I was not so much feeling it. I started reading shortly after it was published and I had to push myself to get into the story and enjoy it (which was a strange sensation). I think what I was mainly missing was that the parts that I used to enjoy the most, the historical assignments and the prepping for those, is reduced to a minimum in these last few books. That's why I was very glad the Crete assignment was coming up, and that part I actually really enjoyed.

But, it is also about Ronan. Again. I have had some trouble trying to figure out how everything with his story line was connected and if it were possible at all. Also, there were characters who made some decisions that went right against their normal behaviors, all working towards a major shocking reveal (which I saw coming). I haven't really figured out what to think of it yet.

For me, this felt sort of like a closing chapter, with some of the most long-running mysteries finally solved, but I just found out another book is planned next year. Still curious to see where it is going...
Profile Image for John Warner.
740 reviews23 followers
October 17, 2021
When Max, time traveling historian for St. Mary's Institute, states that a planned trip will be concise, safe, and well-executed, the excursion will be anything but that. This continues to be true for this book's sojourns into 15th century England and Minos's Crete. In this novel, Max will be betrayed twice by two most trusted and Max's future at St. Mary's will hang in a coin toss.

I am almost finished with this series with only one book left to read. I do plan to follow it up with the Time Police series. I have found this series an enjoyable light read after reading heavier works. Although it has its dramatic moments, these are often interlaced with humor. And what an entertaining way to learn history, which I have found to be accurate. It was beneficial, although coincidental, to have read this book of the series before beginning Ariadne by Jennifer Scott.
Profile Image for Michelle.
440 reviews18 followers
April 21, 2020
Always defrost your chickens

We’re onto book 11 now, and I’m wondering what route Jodi is planning to take. Are we nearing the end? Or is she planning to go down the route of Janet Evanovich? (26 books - at the time of writing - in the Stephanie Plum series.) Or, heaven forbid, down the JD Robb route (51 books - and counting - in the Eve Dallas series.) There’s only so many times Max can get herself - and her team - into considerable danger. Time and time again.

The thing that keeps this series fresh for me, is that Jodi doesn’t stick to going to well known points in time. We land in Crete and London July 1483 and hop between other places but they’re never well known points in history (at least, not for me) and I am glad of that. As it keeps the cast of characters on their toes, wondering where their Mistress is going to dream up, to send them next.

This book is one of the funniest I’ve read in the series. There’s quite a few times where I had to stop reading, because the tears were rolling down my cheeks, I couldn’t see the words on the page anymore. And then when I did pick up the book again, I would read the same lines and the whole process would start over again. By page 25 or so, I’d read quite a few lines out to my ever-suffering dad (who also reads the series), that he probably doesn’t need to read this book now. And page 86, I nearly fell off my seat.

Markham is still the scene stealer of the series, and although he’s largely underused for this book, we do see a lot of him towards the end, and at one point, my exact words were “what the f***”. This part is a serious mindf*** and you’ll either love the idea, or hate it/Markham completely.

The main issue I have with these books (and JD Robb/Janet Evanovich) is there’s no real concept of time passing. Max frequently mentions that she’s not as young as she used to be, and frequent time travelling adventures (with time still passing in whatever era she finds herself in), means I’ve never really had any real idea of what age she actually is at the beginning and what age she is now. You would assume years have passed, but at the same time, no one else seems to be aging/retiring and everything is just plodding along, as if a couple of weeks have passed since the previous instalment.

But how long can this series carry on for? Unless you’re reading each book back to back, there are a lot of salient points that you’ll not remember. I read the first few in the series back to back, but then I have had to wait for the rest to be released. A fresh re-read of the series may have set some points in my head for this particular entry into the series. I would highly recommend if you’re a big fan of this series, to re-read the series beforehand, just to refresh your memory.

Where can this series go from here? I wouldn’t say that this ends on a particular cliffhanger, not like some of the earlier instalments but you’re still left wondering. Until next year.
Profile Image for Tobey.
352 reviews16 followers
May 1, 2020
Mind blowing and fast paced, an extremely enjoyable instalment to this series which I never tire of! Did I mention mind blowing? I had a couple of Jaye Wells "I Can't Even" moments from her recent scale posted on twitter.

I don't recommend starting on this book though, this is book 11 and you would be very, very confused. And that's not to say reading book 1 won't confuse you but I definitely can say that the hilarity and madcap-ness starts right away.

I recommend this series to everyone I can, I love it that much!
Profile Image for Sammy.
1,215 reviews5 followers
May 13, 2021
LOVED this one! The rapid chicken-firing gun was a highlight of the series for me, and it was a great book all-round.


Which is all I'm saying, because spoilers, lol.
Profile Image for Julia.
Author 1 book44 followers
November 29, 2022
So many things happen in this one.

May I say I knew it? 😉
Profile Image for Erica (sand_between_pages).
514 reviews147 followers
August 29, 2021
OH. MY. GOSH! Book 11 is easily the best of the lot? Who would have thought it!
It is not secret that I am absolutely enamored with this series. If you're unfamiliar with The Chronicles of St Marys, these are books about a group of disaster-prone historians who investigate major historical events in contemporary time (but please, don't call it time travel ;)). These books are quirky, action-packed, hysterical, and if you love history, right up your alley (I always learn a ton).
Book 11 was absolutely one adventure after another. From a Viking encounter, to visiting London in 1493 to discover what happened to the Princes in the Tower, to spending three months in Crete studying the Minoan Empire, it felt like 500 pages of pure action. We get plenty of time with our favorites, Max, Markham, and Peterson - and the twists and turns within the plot are FREAKIN EPIC! I literally said "WTF" several times, out-loud, during the read. (My kids weren't around, it's all good!) And in typical Jodi Taylor fashion, I also LOL'ed several times.
FOLKS, this series is so good. If you like history, quirky British humor (think Downton Abbey), time travel, and endearing characters, please pick this up.
Profile Image for Natasha den Dekker.
1,013 reviews9 followers
April 17, 2020
wow wow wow what an addition to this series.
Do we reckon that this is the last in the series about Max and Leon? I feel like...we're kinda getting to the end.

This is definitely a rollercoaster of events and they're all lovingly, gorgeously written about. The normal bits are there with some extra thrown in and it was definitely worth the wait. I'm keen on the other series that Taylor's started as it's nice to have some fresher characters but still the same world. I feel like Max has grown so much and everyone at St Mary's feels like a friend from Markham to Bashford and even Rosie Lee :p

I kinda want more but also not?
Profile Image for Bridgette.
438 reviews7 followers
November 27, 2020
Jodi Taylor is a steam -roller of a writer! So many fun , and compelling ideas and twists! I just keep coming back for more of the St. Mary's crew. The characters have become so real to me, and this time it gets deep. Finally, some light is she'd on major characters.
35 reviews
March 27, 2020
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this review copy. I first discovered the St Mary’s series and Jodi Taylor last month. Since the first chapter, which I listened to through audible, I have been hooked. Her writing is brilliant, funny and often poignant. I have cried and laughed in equal measure. With each book, and short story, I have been desperate to read the next. To hold myself over until I was able to read this, I have read her other novels which I also enjoyed. To say I was happy to get the chance to read this book early would be an understatement! I won’t give away the plot as you need to go into this without spoilers, but I will say I was very satisfied with what was revealed. During a time of great uncertainty in the world- clearly Jodi Taylor has her own time machine as she certainly predicted coronavirus in “Just One Damned Thing After Another”- this book has been a balm to me in my exile from the world. Can’t wait to read the next in the Time Police series in October.
Profile Image for Debra.
1,659 reviews51 followers
August 17, 2020
The Disaster Magnet historians of Saint Mary's are back examining history in real time (never dare say time travel!) Buckle up while your world turns white. If you never enjoyed history, this series can change your mind with its humor. Start with the first one One Damned Thing After Another to get the plot.

Audiobook is an Audible original narrated by Zara Ramm.
Profile Image for Brian Clegg.
Author 185 books2,513 followers
May 15, 2020
The publisher classifies this book as fantasy, but as it is based on one of the classic SF tropes, time travel - and this is done by technology, rather than magic - it can sensibly be classified as science fiction.

The book features St Mary's, an institute of history attached to a fictional university, where the historians research the realities of history using time machines. While not a particularly original idea - Bill and Ted did their history homework this way a long time ago - it's quite nicely set up with a Time Police organisation that is technically on the same side as the historians, but in practice is often in opposition, plus a couple of dastardly time travellers who are intent on messing with the St Mary's bunch, up to and including committing murder.

I did have a slight problem coming to Plan for the Worst as it's book 11 in a series - I sympathise with Jodi Taylor in trying to make the opening accessible to someone who hasn't read the series before, yet not overdoing the old ground. It would have been useful to have a bit more background on St Mary's and the time pods, and I did struggle with the sheer size of the cast - this could have been kept down a little, at least initially.

There was a real problem giving this book a star rating. It has some distinct flaws. It's significantly too long, spending far too much time on describing mundane activities in unnecessary detail. It's episodic - there's an opening visit to a store area in the pre-European Americas that really doesn't contribute anything, for example. It was only after this, around 100 pages in, that the book really seemed to get going. And the humour is juvenile, laid on far too thickly. I initially thought it was a children's book because of the relentless nature of the attempts to be funny in the narration, but the protagonist is a middle-aged woman and the themes sometimes adult, so I was a bit adrift on the target audience. I certainly didn't understand the way the blurb likens the book to Ben Aaronovitch, whose Rivers of London series may also have some humour, but are far more sophisticated and dark in the way it's used.

Because of the above, I was all set to give the book just three stars, but what rescued it were the set pieces. The murder investigation, the Tower of London and Crete - particularly Crete - were really well handled and draw the reader in. These are five star sections, bringing up the overall score. There's also some quite clever playing around with time and time streams. This is something that, for example, Dr Who hardly ever does as it can be hard to follow. It's used effectively in the movie Looper, but that takes a couple of watchings to get on top of - it's handled well here.

So, it's a strange mix. If I'm honest, I wasn't drawn in enough to go back and start the series from the beginning, but after initially being close to giving up when faced with the relentless jokiness, I did enjoy those set pieces enough to make it a satisfying read.
Profile Image for Jacey.
Author 26 books97 followers
August 26, 2020
Following the plan to trap arch villain Ronan, and the unexpected twist at the end of the previous book, Hope for the Best, Max, Leon and their son Matthew (recently returned from the care of the Time Police) are trying to get on with the rest of their lives at St Mary's. Max is once more in charge of the historians and trying to impress their funders at Thirsk University, so she's planning a spectacular trip to ancient Crete, just before the huge volcanic eruption which heralded the end of the Minoan civilisation. But before that, Leon is arrested for murder by the dreaded Time Police, and Max, Peterson and Markham have to become private investigators. Then Doctor Bairstow (the boss) takes Mrs Brown (a government representative) on a jaunt to see the Princes in the Tower, accompanied only by Max. Everything goes wrong (of course) and Max is almost drowned, when the person she trusts with her life fails her. The betrayal leaves her shaken. Then there's the Crete trip. It's all going well until the volcano kicks off early and Ronan reappears at just the wrong moment. There's a satisfactory ending, and I did wonder whether this might be the final book, but then I checked and #12 is available for advance order. After a lot of hints in previous books we finally find out more about Markham who is my second favourite character (after Max) and when the revelation comes, it's a doozy.

Audiobook 26/08/2020
I read the book on Kindle and then immediately listened to it on Audible immediarely after finishng the Kindle read. It's read by Zara Ramm, as usual and is thoroughly satisfying.
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