Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

"A Murder in Time" by Julie McElwain
First published in 2016
497 pages
My rating: 3.75 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

The Short Of It:
I liked this page-turner that blended modern-day crime-solving methods with historical fiction. It had a few flaws, but overall I enjoyed it.

The Long Of It:
Time travel to the early 19th century, a grisly murder and a badass female FBI agent from present day combine to make a gripping debut mystery novel.

I really wasn't into the book for the first 70 pages, which are set in modern day and are about a case Kendra is working for the FBI. I just couldn't bring myself to care a single bit about it, and I think the novel would've been made better if less time had been devoted to that storyline.

But the rest of the book is set in 1815 at Aldridge Castle in England, where Kendra miraculously slips back in time. And, as a brilliant 21st century FBI agent, she just so happens to be equipped with the right knowledge to track down a serial killer who's torturing and murdering young women in the quiet English countryside.

I appreciated the way McElwain handled the time travel here; sometimes characters travel back in time and fit right in. But Kendra, realistically, has a huge learning curve when it comes to pretending to be a woman in the early 1800s. For one thing, she initially passes herself off as a lady's maid, but she has absolutely no idea what she's doing. For another, she's whip smart, but women's opinions -- particularly female servants' -- were not exactly valued back then. And she's also got to remember what has yet to be invented, who has yet to make discoveries and be careful not to give too much away about the future.

Of course, Kendra's very personality, so different from her new contemporaries', arouses suspicion, not to mention the fact that her knowledge of murder and crime-solving is entirely unheard of for a woman of the time. Seeing how Kendra navigated these obstacles -- as well as the unconventional romance she falls into, because of course there's a handsome English lord --  was almost as interesting as the murder mystery.

The writing, while adequate, could definitely have used more pizzazz and fewer cliched phrases. I also didn't feel Kendra's rather odd backstory was entirely necessary, and I was irritated with the frequent use of the modern-day phrase "unsub" when referring to the murderer. But the plot pulled me in and I found the book to be a page-turner. Anyone who enjoys historical mysteries should find "A Murder in Time" to be an entertaining read. (P.S. That cover!)


  1. I just realized it's been forever since I read my last detective/mystery story! And I used to love it so much! This one sounds intriguing!

    1. I'd been craving a good murder mystery and this one fit the bill, but I want more! I think the next one I pick up will be the sequel to "Mr. Mercedes" by Stephen King (which was an awesome detective story!), "Finders Keepers." The last book in the series comes out this summer and I need to get caught up!

  2. Even despite its flaws this sounds like a fun read. And time travel! I will have to look for this one.

    1. It was fun! Have you heard of "The River of No Return" by Bee Ridgway? It's one of my favorite time travel books, and it has a similar setting to this one.


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