In A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong, Mallory Atkinson is a modern-day Canadian cop, a homicide detective, who is in Edinburg to visit her dying grandmother. She tries to stop a murder and ends up being attacked herself. She wakes up to find herself in the body of a woman, Catriona, who was attacked at the same time, 150 years before.
I’ll start this off by saying that time-travel fiction is my favorite genre, which means I’ve read a lot of it. Consequently, I’m harder on this genre than any other in my reviews. There are many types of time travel books. Some have a scientific, sci-fi bent. Some are more historical. Some are romances that only use time travel briefly. I would classify this one as a historical mystery/thriller with a bit of time travel.
Every time travel story has to have a means or method of time travel. Some use a machine, some use an enchanted or scientific object, and some use a place. This story uses a murder, which I find unique.
Each story also has to establish rules of time travel. Because time travel doesn’t actually exist, the rules are wide open for every author to set. For example, in Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s series, you cannot travel back to the same place where you’ve already been and you can’t change history without history slapping back. In this one, I find little to no rules of time travel at all. Time travel happens, and the only consequence seems to be that the main character, a cop, feels awkward as a maid in the Victorian era and sometimes uses language that is not appropriate for the time. She doesn’t seem worried about paradoxes or anything similar. She mentions she’s not concerned with a “butterfly effect.” She has little trouble–not enough trouble–as a Canadian blending into Victorian times in Edinburg. She’s not really concerned with changing history, other than catching a murderer. As a fan of time travel fiction, I feel at this point that the time travel was used basically as “wow” factor to draw the reader into a book that is actually a historical thriller.
The murder mystery is very strong on its own, with intricate twists and turns. The employer/employee relationship between Mallory and Gray is well done, as we progress slowly from Gray learning that Mallory, who he knows as Catriona, can read and write, to Gray and his sister realizing there is much more going on. The book does move too slowly at times.
I feel the Victorian era is well researched. The author’s note in the front outlines the liberties she took with history, as is her right in a fictional work.
Overall, this is a compelling and intriguing historical mystery/thriller that will quickly draw the reader in. The minimal use of time travel is off-putting for me, as is the fact that the book is written in present tense.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelley Armstrong believes experience is the best teacher, though she’s been told this shouldn’t apply to writing her murder scenes. To craft her books, she has studied aikido, archery, and fencing. She sucks at all of them. She has also crawled through very shallow cave systems and climbed half a mountain before chickening out. She is however an expert coffee drinker and a true connoisseur of chocolate-chip cookies.