Book Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain
My sister sent me a link to this book because it was the title for the Big Library Read from June 23 - July 7, 2016.
I downloaded this mystery and got completely caught up in the story. Loved it! As part of the Big Library Read, the title was immediately available for me to download, and I had the title for the full three-week check out period even though I didn't download it until the end of June. Loving this Overdrive partnership with public libraries as well!
Interested in the next Big Library Read? Me too. The check-out period for the next book will be October 20 - November 3, 2016. They haven't revealed the title, but I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what they choose.
My one big complaint about this story is the over-emphasis the author places on how special Kendra Donovan is. Her parents are scientists who participated in some genetics program to give birth to Kendra, some kind of enhanced gifted child. Huh? Is she part of Clone Club too? I just didn't see why she needed to be SO intelligent that she graduated from Princeton by 18. Plus she's super model beautiful. And she speaks multiple languages. Overload!
Her exceptional qualities, though, didn't make her unlikable for me. She had some humor about her that I enjoyed.
At one point in 1815, Kendra was questioning a member of the upper class about his whereabouts on the night of the murder. His answer was not helpful. One of the characters asked Kendra, "Would you prefer that he be evasive and unhelpful?" To which Kendra replied, "I prefer he had an alibi." I snorted when I read that. And pretty much any book that makes me snort, gets some leeway in how the author chooses to describe all the extra special specialness of their main character.
The modern day exposition seemed a bit long. We have to meet Kendra and her FBI team, they have to try to take down a bad guy, several of her colleagues die, Kendra is seriously wounded, she has to spend months in rehab, she has to have an awkward conversation with her horribly detached father, she has to plot revenge, she has to travel to England to confront the bad guy, and finally, she has to time travel back to 1815.
When I was reading, I was a little annoyed at how long it took for Kendra to actually time travel. However, when I checked Goodreads, I saw that this book is labeled as Kendra Donovan #1. The sequel, A Twist in Time, is scheduled for release in April 2017. If you don't want the plot of this first book spoiled, though, do not read the plot synopsis of the sequel. Knowing that a sequel exists, and a possible series, does put a different spin on why the author may have spent so much effort describing Kendra in modern times.
And once Kendra did time travel, the pages flew by for me. Sure, the plot depends on several of the other main characters believing that Kendra's eccentricities are merely because she's an American. I actually found that explanation funny. And Kendra really does not try to blend into her surroundings. An American trait?
She does try to identify the serial killer, and her chase is worth the read.
Being immersed in upper society at Aldridge Castle in 1815 certainly hampers the technology available to Kendra. However, her keen observations and logic impress the scientifically-minded Duke, who gives her cart-blanche to investigate.
Kendra creates an evidence board from a slate located in the old nursery classroom. She theorizes with the Duke and a few other trusted support characters. She interviews various suspects and continues to build the facts on her evidence board.
As the story progresses, there are a few times where the unidentified serial killer makes a first person appearance. I found myself re-reading his sections for any scraps of a clue. And when a second victim disappears, the chase gets even more intense.
There are several scenes where the violence gets graphic. If you're not okay with reading descriptions of violence, particularly violence against women, then you may want to avoid this book. If you've read G.R.R. Martin or watch Game of Thrones, I think you'll be fine.
Kendra makes some dumb decisions, a few that put her life at risk. And some of the writing is a bit long: repetitively descriptive. Hey, what color were Alec's eyes again? I'm not sure that I picked up on the fact that they're green. Jeez, is he related to Harry Potter too?
Even with these flaws, though, the main story of catching this serial killer kept me guessing and referring to the slate board of evidence within my own mind. Looking forward to reading how this series progresses.