• The Story
  • The Narration
The Poisoner's Ring Book Cover The Poisoner's Ring
A Rip Through Time Novel, Book 2
Kelley Armstrong (Author), Kate Handford (Narrator)
Historical Mystery, Time Travel Fiction
Minotaur Books
May 23, 2023
Kindle, Audiobook, Hardback, Paperback

A modern-day homicide detective is working as an undertaker's assistant in Victorian Scotland when a serial poisoner attacks the men of Edinburgh and leaves their widows under suspicion.

Edinburgh, 1869: Modern-day homicide detective Mallory Atkinson is adjusting to her new life in Victorian Scotland. Her employers know she’s not housemaid Catriona Mitchell―even though Mallory is in Catriona’s body―and Mallory is now officially an undertaker’s assistant. Dr. Duncan Gray moonlights as a medical examiner, and their latest case hits close to home. Men are dropping dead from a powerful poison, and all signs point to the grieving widows… the latest of which is Gray’s oldest sister.

Poison is said to be a woman’s weapon, though Mallory has to wonder if it’s as simple as that. But she must tread carefully. Every move the household makes is being watched, and who knows where the investigation will lead.

A series involving time travel is no easy feat.

Kelley Armstrong has created a life in 1869 Victorian Scotland that is almost more desirable than our MC’s modern life in 2019. I specifically say almost because Mallory definitely misses her family and friends in her true life. Also, the rules of fashion in 1869 don’t make it easy for a woman to be able to run and defend herself while solving murder cases.

In the first book, “A Rip Through Time“, Mallory Atkinson was attacked in the very place a young maid was attacked 150 year before her. This is a strange phenomena that sent her to the house of an undertaker, and his widowed sister. The entire book is worth your time, but the point is, Mallory is still in Scotland in “The Poisoner’s Ring“. She’s adjusting to her new life, and genuinely enjoys her new friends/employers Duncan and Isla.

The Poisoner’s Ring delivers a mysterious case of poisoned men with their wives as the easy suspects.

Thankfully, Mallory is from 150 years in the future. So she knows a few things about forensic science that help prove the poison deaths are not open and shut cases. There are also several times that Mallory makes funny remarks with her friends that make absolutely no sense to them. What can be the most infuriating is when the characters fully disregard Mallory because she’s a woman. They don’t even have crime scene containment laws in that time! Anyone can walk all about a crime scene! It’s wild.

I deeply appreciated that Kelley Armstrong remained true to the issues of discrimination and prejudice to people based on their gender, and their race, while also providing more enlightened people as balance. Armstrong pointed out several situations where Dr. Duncan Gray is regarded as less-than because of the color of his skin, without the writing being too derogatory for the reader. It’s handled with care. Relevant to the story, without being to hateful for readers. This is also true of characters who are transgender, and in same-sex relationships. These relationships and characteristics were perhaps hidden a lot more overall in 1869, but they were true relationships, and they were valid. They mattered. Mallory was lucky to land herself as a maid working for very progressive people. She makes additional friends that are also appreciative of diversity. Their light outshines the darkness from other characters in Mallory’s new Victorian life.

I’m anxious to get my hands on the upcoming novella in December, “Cocktails & Chloroform“. When I finished “The Poisoner’s Ring” on audio, I had sweet tears in my eyes, and a yearning for more of Mallory’s story. I can’t decide if I want her to find her way home, or remain in the past. It feels like neither scenario is truly a win for her. It’s quite a conundrum and I look forward to every little bit of this series from Kelly Armstrong.

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