Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

A Murder in Time
Author:  Julie McElwain
Series:  Kendra Donovan 1
Publisher:  Pegasus, April 11, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  $25.95 (print); $12.99 (digital)
ISBN:  9781605989747 (print); 9781681771151 (digital)

When brilliant FBI agent Kendra Donovan stumbles back in time and finds herself in a 19th century English castle under threat from a vicious serial killer, she scrambles to solve the case before it takes her life—200 years before she was even born.

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place - Aldrich Castle - but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

Mistaken for a lady's maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there's some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

Melanie's Thoughts

Kendra Donovan is a highly gifted FBI profiler with a career on the rise until a raid goes tragically wrong and most of her team are killed. Kendra almost dies and spends months in rehab plotting the demise of the man who killed her teammates. Haunted by what happened, she makes the drastic decision to go rogue and seek justice for her team by assassinating the man responsible. She follows him to England and to Aldrich Castle where something happens that changes not only her life but the very fabric of time. Another assassin kills her target and in the process of fleeing she ends up in a stairwell that takes her not only to safety but 200 years in the past. Mistaken for a ladies maid Kendra tries to figure out what has happened to her. When a young prostitute's body is found on the estate, having been tortured and murdered, Kendra can't resist trying to solve the crime. Can she solve this case without the use of the tools of her trade and with the restrictions of society and class structure of the early 1800's? A serial killer is targeting young women and Kendra may be the only person capable of stopping him.

Kendra is a genetically engineered child of two scientists, highly intelligent but emotionally stunted with no friends or family that she was close to. Her career is everything to her and seeking justice for her teammates ruled her life until she 'fell through the rabbit hole' into 1815. The majority of the story is set in the 1800s and involves the murders at Aldrich Castle. I think the murder plot was well executed and I wasn't sure who the serial murderer was. In fact I had a couple of late nights trying to finish the book. I have A Murder in Time to blame for my sleep deprived puffy eyes twice last week! I used to read a lot of murder mysteries and usually guess who 'dunnit' but this time I couldn't figure it out. My main criticism, however, is with Kendra herself. While I think that McElwain excelled in plot development I don't think the character development was as strong. I find Kendra a bit superficial and not that likeable. I feel that McElwain could have spent more time developing Kendra at the start of the story before she ended up in 1815 which would have made her a much more rounded character.

Overall, I enjoyed A Murder in Time. I am not sure I liked it as much as Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series which has a similar time traveling basis. For a debut A Murder in Time is a good read. McElwain leaves the reader with an ending that will obviously lead into future novels and I hope that can produce another plot that can keep me up at night.


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