July 28, 2016 | No comments
In brief: Julie McElwain’s debut novel combines mystery and historical fiction (with a bit of time travel). The protagonist, FBI agent Kendra Donovan, suddenly finds herself 200 years earlier in time at a British castle, where she needs to solve multiple gruesome murders and catch a serial killer.
Setting: Starting with present day US, ending with a UK castle in 1815.
The not-so-good: The first few chapters went very slow and it took quite a long time for me to warm up to the heroine. For some reason, I found her to be quite hard to relate to, not very sympathetic, and occasionally not very believable. I also felt like there was a lot of back-story glossed over – it almost felt like there was a previous book I had missed reading – that would explain a lot of her actions.
I usually have a hard time with books involving time travel (Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander being the exception), and even though I didn’t find that part of this story very convincing, the mystery part of the plot eventually had me hooked. The writing is far from the best I’ve ever read, but overall, this book contains all the pieces needed for a good mystery.
The good: In spite of the issues I had with the setup of the plot and the protagonist, once the mystery started (and dead bodies started turning up) I was hooked. After a while I forgot about all the minor details that had been bugging me and got completely wrapped up in trying to figure out who the murderer was. This is definitely one of those books where the individual pieces are not so great, but together they somehow work. (Also, did I mention that much of the story is set in a castle?)
Why I read it: It was the June/July selection for the Big Library Read. And the cover is gorgeous.
My rating: ★★★★
Conclusion: This mystery disguised as historical fiction is definitely worth reading. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, A Twist in Time, scheduled for publication in April 2017.