Caught in Time

Written by Julie McElwain
Review by Val Adolph

FBI agent Kendra Donovan has somehow slipped back in time to Regency England. This, the third in the series of ‘In Time’ mysteries, finds her in the north of England in 1815. She has become the ward of the Duke of Aldridge – a gentle, mentoring figure who has guided her – and the reader – through the manners and mores of the time and the historical events that underpin the story.

Travelling through Yorkshire, Kendra and the Duke come across a band of Luddites – craftsmen whose livelihood has been taken away by the newly invented machines that weave cloth far faster and more cheaply than they could weave it. Luddites are known to hate the new machinery that is stealing their livelihoods and to wreck the machines if given the chance. Now it appears that they have also killed the manager of the local mill.

Only Kendra’s sharp eyes and her 21st-century training and knowledge of blood-spatter patterns prevent the Luddites from being blamed. However, the real killer must be found and – frustratingly – without the 21st-century forensics to which Kendra is accustomed. Almost equally frustrating are the limits placed on her as a young woman in Regency times.

The time-slip concept of this novel is enhanced by a twist that carries the plot to a neat conclusion. As a mystery, it is satisfying, if somewhat over-long. The historical detail seems thoroughly researched and generously applied. However, most of the characters seem flat and the differences between their viewpoints and 21st-century views rather too meticulously noted. The sense of place is weak and the accent of the local people completely inappropriate for Yorkshire. That said, the writer has given her readers a competently plotted mystery, well-paced and easy to read.