Title: A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan #1)
Author: Julie McElwain
Release date: 26th April 2016
Reading Time: 6-8 Hours
Beautiful and brilliant FBI profiler Kendra Donovan mysteriously travels back 200 years to 1815, where she finds herself using her 21st Century skills to catch a disturbing serial killer.
A Murder in Time mixes historical fiction with sci-fi, so, I obviously had to read it! Sadly, I found the whole thing to be a little disappointing, but maybe I went in with very high expectations. Let me start by saying that there is barely any time travel in this, and the little time travel there is, remains completely unexplained. Since it’s the first in a series, and this is more historical fiction than anything else, I was expecting this. What let the novel down, in my opinion, is the very slow start. It took too long to set up Kendra and her motives. The first seven chapters were unnecessary, and the little information provided in them could have been added in the later chapters. I personally would have enjoyed it more if the novel had started a little later, using Kendra’s backstory as a little side mystery to keep the reader entertained until the main mystery kicks in. The story picks up once the murdered girl is found, and the action does start to move faster. The clues to the killer’s identity are hidden in plain sight, and I kicked myself for missing them after reading the reveal, which is done in an infuriatingly suspenseful way. That’s a good thing, by the way. I HAD to keep reading at this point, as it was impossible to put the book down without knowing who it was.
I didn’t like or dislike Kendra, or any character for that matter, with perhaps the exception of Lady Rebecca, who grew on me a little, but that’s only relative to everyone else. Everyone in this novel was kinda meh. Kendra is a super duper, beautiful, amazing, incredible, genius level, self dubbed freak, whose only flaw seems to be an inability to peel potatoes. Yet, for an FBI agent, she’s terrible at undercover work. Kendra’s completely clueless about to how behave, failing to adapt her behaviour and language around others as she learns more about her surroundings, and I found the way everyone just seemed to shrug off her unacceptable behaviour a bit hard to swallow. There’s no way a woman, especially a lower class woman, would be allowed to speak and act the way Kendra does, regardless of how ‘modern thinking’ her hosts are. Plus, she’s got magical hair that grows 10 inches in three months, but that’s a whole other thing.
Alec is the dullest of all, his only purpose is to play the broody hunk fighting his growing feelings for the beautiful heroine, and honestly, the plot would have played out the same without him. Like Kendra, there’s very little, if any, character growth here. And yes, it is the first in a series, and he might improve, but this is still a whole, self contained novel, and there has to be something for a character to do rather than just serve as a place holder for possible future developments.
And then there’s Lady Rebecca, who would probably kick ass in any century. I grew to like Lady Rebecca despite a lacklustre introduction to the character, and that’s kind of all I can say without going into more spoilery detail.
The writing style, although a pleasant read overall, had a couple of issues. Methinks the author spent a lot of time on research, and felt she had to find a way to fit it all in regardless of whether it was relevant or not, which means Kendra seems to know (and go on about) a lot of details that only historians would know (when hangers were invented, for example), and it just all felt a little too superfluous, and crowded the writing a bit.
The bigger issue for me, however, was the author’s insistence in writing out dialogue phonetically using non-standard spelling. Dear God, that was irritating. It slowed things down, it distracted me from the story and what the characters were saying, and I swear towards the end I just started skipping lines.
If you love historical fiction, give this a try. It won’t blow your socks off, but you’ll probably enjoy it. If you’re looking for a time travel novel, with, you know, time travel in it, you might want to pass on A Murder in Time.
TL,DR: Historical fiction with a slight time travel twist that won’t blow you away, but will keep you entertained for a while.