A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Kendra Donovan, FBI agent, darts into the secret staircase of an English manor house to escape an assailant. Woo, oh, I’m so dizzy and nauseated, and my god my head hurts, let me open this door, and ta da! Now she’s in the 19th Century.
I hate time travel novels that have no explanation for the time travel other than woo. It’s one of the reasons I stopped reading the Outlander series. Also, for all the smarts Ms. Donovan supposedly possesses, it takes her forever to figure out and accept that she’s no longer in the 21st century.
Those caveats aside, this is a well-written, fast-paced mystery that kept me guessing the identity of the bad guy right until the reveal. I won’t go looking for further volumes of this series as they’re published, but all in all, not a bad way to kill some commute time.
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Four of five stars
Seth Grahame-Smith follows up the simply marvelous Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with this fun, gory twist on vampires as a driving force in world history.
When Abraham Lincoln was a child, his mother was killed by vampires: his father’s punishment for defaulting on a loan from a vampire. This tragedy galvanized young Abe into swearing vengeance on vampirekind and provided the impetus for his subsequent efforts at building his strength, stamina, and fighting skills.
Aided by Henry, a vampire who early on convinced Abe that he wasn’t one of the vampires who needed killing, and by other friends met along the way, Lincoln embarks upon his quest, traveling the Mississippi by flatboat and taking care of business, personal and otherwise, along the way. As time goes on, he becomes convinced that slavery is the chief evil which supports the vampires. And he goes into politics.
Grahame-Smith gleefully combines historical details from Lincoln’s life with the fantasy of a United States secretly controlled by vampires, especially in the slaveholding South, and weaves together an entirely believable tale. It’s great fun for the most part, but Grahame-Smith does not gloss over Lincoln’s deep sorrow and that of his wife Mary over the tragedy of their lost children. In this reality, however, these losses can be laid almost entirely at the feet of the vampire.
Smashing good read.