I don’t read a lot of mystery or detective stories—and after I read a good one I’m always wondering why that is because I generally enjoy them. The same goes for historical fiction. When I came across the description for A Rip Through Time (actually, let’s face it, it was actually the beautiful cover that drew me in), I was really intrigued to see where the story would take me. And when I learned that author Kelley Armstrong is also Canadian, I was even more sold. (I don’t know what it is about Canadians getting so excited to discover that someone else is Canadian–maybe it’s from just being a country with not that many people, in the grand scheme of things.) A Canadian time-travel murder mystery? Sign. Me. Up.
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.
I’m going to start out by saying that I did not know this was going to be a series and when the story ends and there’s a whole book missing (or at least one, I’m not sure what the plan is) I was so bummed that this was an ARC because now I have to wait extra long to see what happens with Mallory. So just be forewarned that everything isn’t wrapped up with a pretty little bow at the end of this. And it’s so good that you’ll want to know what happens right away.
I love the main character, Mallory. Is it a little hard to believe that she would know enough about the Victorian era to get away with not drawing even more attention to herself than she does in this book? Sure, yes, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief because: time travel. Looking beyond that, I love that she’s a strong, independent woman who is good at her job, who has a life outside of her job, and who doesn’t need a man in her life to give her worth. She’s smart, she’s scrappy and she’s got a good head on her shoulders. I’m glad we get to find out even more about her as the story goes on. And I’ve got to admit, seeing how frustrating it would be for a 21st-century woman to be stuck in the 19th century, both science-wise and with the gender divide, is more interesting than I thought it would be. I grab my phone 16,000 times a day, so it would be really hard to be without it.
The Victorian characters are also very well developed. Dr. Grey and Officer McCreadie are good guys who are really into advancing science and police work, respectively, Isla is that character that you just want to be bffs with, and though you don’t get a lot of Alice, the much younger housemaid, I’m hoping we learn more about her as the series goes on.
The murder mystery itself is compelling. I don’t know much about Jack the Ripper (which is alluded to), but I don’t think you really need that knowledge to understand or appreciate what’s going on. There are really two parts to the mystery, and though the first part comes to a close at the end of the first book—and I totally didn’t see it coming until Mallory was putting the pieces together herself—I know the second part is going to be even more interesting.
If you like detective stories, if you like forensic science, if you like the Victorian era, or even just some great characters, I highly recommend you pick up A Rip In Time. I hesitate to say there’s almost something for everyone here.
“He’s stealing from the future. Stealing the thunder of the most famous serial killer of all time.” —Kelley Armstrong, A Rip Through Time
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books for the advanced copy, and to Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash for the featured photo.