A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan #1) by Julie McElwain

Posted on January 7, 2017 by Regina | 0 Comments

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 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.

Does the cover of this book not beckon you to read it!?

Yes, I will admit, I judged this book by its cover. I am glad I read the story synopsis and thought it sounded rad as well.

This would be a great book to use that Christmas book money on or gift to your bibliophile friends who love murder mysteries, feminist fiction, Doctor Who, and Sherlock Holmes.

I think fans of Outlander are going to fall in love with the Kendra Donovan series.
I think fans of Outlander are going to fall in love with the Kendra Donovan series.

Strong female lead? Check.

Action? Check.

Time travel? Check.

History? Check!

Mystery? Check!

Who can resist a time-travelling-historical-fiction-mystery with a bad-ass female protagonist? Not me, and you will not be able to either, once you are introduced to the crime fighting, slightly messed-up world of FBI agent, Kendra Donovan. ( I really like using hyphens.)

Kendra Donovan is the twenty-something offspring of ambition-driven, cold and calculating parents.

The story of Donovan’s parents and her past sound like they were equally plucked from the early twentieth century and some time in the future. This will make sense if you read the book and are familiar with the term eugenics.

While the first third of Kendra’s story unfolds in the present, the majority of the book takes place in a castle. In nineteenth-century England. DELIGHTFUL.

It was entertaining to listen to Kendra’s thoughts as she compared and contrasted the customs and rituals of polite and lower-class society in 1815 to the customs and social class divisions of our present time. There was a fun Upstairs, Downstairs/ Downton Abbey atmosphere to the story. Unfortunately for Kendra, she was plopped “downstairs” when she travelled back in time, and there are some hilarious moments in which things just aren’t working out for her and she loses her cool.

“The accouterments of humanity may change, but its heartbeat remained the same.”

There is great blend of Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes-esque imagery and plot in the novel. It was fun to witness how the modern FBI agent had to mask her modern crime detection skills under the guise of being a uniquely educated foreigner.

I kind of ended up imagining Kendra Donovan like this in the present...
I kind of ended up imagining Kendra Donovan like this in the present…
...And like this in the 19th century, although her hair is very different as described in the book.
…And like this in the 19th century (although her hair is very different as described in the book).

The main character often references some of the most familiar historical aspects (writers, tropes, concepts, philosophies) of the time period while trying to navigate her way around society. It might come off as trite, but the reader has to remind themselves that Kendra Donovan is a brainiac, prone to encyclopedic thought-streams.

This book was darker than I anticipated. There are grisly murders and graphic autopsies, but if you are a fan of other nineteenth-century crime/mystery novels, then it is nothing too shocking. Jack the Ripper comes to mind…

If you are looking for something with the level of romance and rendezvous that the Outlander series had, then you will be a little disappointed. While there is the hint of a developing romance throughout the book, we do not see any real ”action” until the end. But I liked this aspect of the novel. I enjoyed that the novel focused on this strong and smart, liberated woman solving crimes instead of her swooning over some English heartthrob. That being said, the story ends in a way that lets us know there is definitely more romance to come in the next novel.

Overall, A Murder in Time was an action-packed, atmospheric, fun and absorbing read. I am excited to read the next novel in the series, A Twist in Time, due out this April.

a-twist-in-time-cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Classical music nerd by day, freelance writer and blogger by night. When I review books, I don't dish out and rehash every character and detail. What's the point of reading a book if you give most of the deets away in a review??? My reviews are more about my impressions and over all experience with the book. I am also a world-renowned armchair psychologist, and love to psychoanalyze authors.
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