Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong
Series: A Rip Through Time #1
Published by Minotaur Books on May 31, 2022
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May 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness.
May 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Mitchell had been enjoying a half-day off, only to be discovered that night in a lane, where she’d been strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one-hundred-and-fifty years before Mallory was strangled in the same spot.
When Mallory wakes up in Catriona's body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to the reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. She soon discovers that her boss, Dr. Gray, also moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Her only hope is that catching the murderer can lead her back to her modern life . . . before it's too late.
Strangled in the same alley that a woman was strangled 150 years before, a woman police officer suddenly finds herself back in that time and in the woman’s body. Talk about exciting premises, right? After reading several thrilling books from this author, I was keen to pick up this first in a new series and explore the idea of a modern woman adjusting to the past and, as a police officer, adjusting to investigating a crime old-style.
Mallory is in Edinburgh struggling to say goodbye to a beloved grandmother on her deathbed. In need of a bit of air, she finds herself in Old Town at night in time to hear a woman struggling nearby. Her cop instincts kick in and she rushes to the rescue only to encounter a killer. She wakes up in 1869 and discovers she is now Catriona, a disreputable woman given a new chance as a housemaid in an undertaker’s home. However, Dr. Gray is not just a funeral home owner. He studies forensic science and one of the police investigators has just brought him a new body to help offer clues about the murder. While adjusting to her new incredible circumstances, trying to figure out how to get back to her own time, and more than curious about Catriona’s attack and her past, she can’t help herself from getting involved in the police investigation and Gray’s work.
I love the idea of bringing a modern police detective into Victorian Scotland and seeing her work through the whacked out idea that she just traveled back in time, the world of being a woman and a serving class person with criminal history, and having her land fortuitously in a progressive man’s home and work. I say progressive because Dr. Gray can empathize with the frustration she feels as a woman denied certain things of his race. He and his sister, Isla, are looked at askance because they are educated, own a business, and have a comfortable income when most people of color were servant class. His personality and interests are not unlike a certain famous fictional detective by the name of Holmes and his sister is a chemist and atypical of her time as well.
Kelley Armstrong took the time to sketch in how it all felt for Mallory to go through such an experience. I liked that Mallory wasn’t some special snowflake who instinctively knew her history and how to fit in, but neither was she arrogant about it. She tries to fit in and respect that people of the past weren’t stupid. Her attempt to talk ‘historical’ based on a vague knowledge from historical romance books was hilarious.
That said, I did get antsy to come to the moment when she got settled in and we could get on to the fun part. Solving crime old-style with her knowledge from the future that would help the investigation. I was sympathetic that she left things unfinished with her grandmother and she had a life back in the present, but I enjoyed her in the past. It was fun seeing how her secret about being a time traveler and also the surprise twist figuring out how she ended up there spins itself out.
Mysteries abound from the serial killer in the present, the killer in the past, how the time slip worked, and coloring in Catriona’s story. It was interesting seeing the extra twist of her being ‘Catriona’ in 1869 and everyone else knows more about Catriona than she does so she must learn as she goes and it turns out Catriona was as much a mystery as the investigation into murder. I liked Gray and McCreadie, but was happy to see them show up the other arrogant police and pathologist, but Mallory’s time with Isla was also pretty great.
All in all, this was a good start to a series, building the background and slowly getting going to a steady, suspense-building book that left me satisfied with what I got and ready for what comes next in the series.
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