Last Updated -
The latest Julie McElwain book, Betrayal in Time, takes its readers back to the 19th Century England, where Kendra Donovan is reminiscing about her past life in the future while learning and getting used to being more lady-like in the past.
When Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly is called to an old church where a chase led a policeman right to the body of a prominent personality, he feared there might be more to the murder than what he could see with his own eyes. When the mortician discovered some strange signs on the naked dead man’s body, Sam knew immediately whom he should call: Kendra Donovan and the Duke of Aldridge.
Kendra because she has proven time and time again that she possesses some strange advanced knowledge about such things, and the Duke because his influence and power could help in trying to learn more about the deceased.
Of course, Kendra is eager to jump right in, despite the misgivings of the Duke’s sister, who can’t stand Kendra’s forward attitude.
The story is, once again, a classic historical mystery, with the only element of time-travel being Kendra’s musings on her past life, and her daydreaming about going back home. I keep waiting for the book which will propel her back to her own time, but I fear it won’t happen any time soon. Kenra is most probably there to stay.
The story itself is engaging, and the serial killer seems to be quite disturbed. As the modern world cops would say, he has his own MO which he leaves behind with every killing. Kendra, without having any advanced, modern forensic tools at her disposal, has to make do with the basic, archaic tools he can find in 1816. It made me chuckle to read when she asked for a bottle of whiskey during the autopsy, with everyone being confused about her strong desire to drink, only to be even more confused when she proceeded to wash her hands with said alcohol.
In moments like these you do realize that the time period Kendra landed it is very different from ours, and back then it was so much easier to succumb to all sorts of illnesses even simply because people wouldn’t wash their hands.
While Kendra’s potty mouth has quieted down a bit, people around her are no longer surprised when she does exclaim something a lady should have no bearing of doing so. The offensive language is a bit tamer here compared to the first book which introduced us to a 21st Century Kendra, so sensitive people can easily continue the series without much worry. Still, bad language does exist every now and then.
Kendra and Alec are still madly in love with each other, but she still doesn’t want to accept him in marriage, despite his dire insistences. I guess she still hopes in her heart that, at some point, she might just be able to go back home to her own time. Alec is slightly exasperated with her, but he usually gives in when Kendra keeps reminding him she is from another time. Still, I can easily imagine his fear of her getting in harm’s way because this is the world he is living in.
The one person I can’t stand is the Duke’s sister who is trying to stomp on anything Kendra is intending to do. Of course, this doesn’t stop Kendra from doing whatever she feels she has to do – even quietly leaving the Duke’s house to meet a dangerous thug for information – to advance her investigation.
Sam Kelly is also a dear; I quite like him, and this book showed a bit more about him than before. He is an intelligent person who would be a force to reckon with in the 21st Century.
Overall, this was another fantastic historical mystery novel in the Kendra Donovan series. I do miss the time-travel aspect – after all, that was the carrot that got me to start the series in the first place, however, I am starting to give up hope of that part of the story coming back any time soon. So, in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the series for what it is: a 19th Century historical crime tale of an independent woman who is trying to find her bearing in a world alien to her.
Reviews for the previous books in the series: