Review of The Poisoner’s Ring by Kelley Armstrong @KelleyArmstrong @MinotaurBooks #thepoisonersring

A most excellent second entry in Kelley Armstrong’s Rip Through Time series.

Blurb: 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.

New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong is known for her exquisite world building, and this latest series is no exception. The Poisoner’s Ring brings the intricacies of Victorian Scotland alive as Mallory again searches for a 19th-century killer as well as a way home.


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Time traveling homicide detective Mallory Atkinson is still stuck in Victorian Edinburgh in the body of a early-twenty-something housemaid Catriona as a serial killer poisons men, casting suspicion on their wives, and fear that a poisoner’s ring exists in Kelley Armstrong’s The Poisoner’s Ring.

Rip Through Time has moved up to the top of the list of my favorite Kelley Armstrong’s series–probably in the top five of all mystery series that I follow. In The Poisoner’s Ring, Armstrong gives us a very credible main character in Mallory who is navigating a world in which she’s familiar (homicide) and one in which she only has scant knowledge. She’s also navigating relationships with Duncan and his sister Isla, trying not to become too close, while wondering how her own family is, whether they’ve noticed that Catriona is not her. Whether her beloved grandmother has passed alone.

The mystery, again, is top notch, well-thought-out and gripping. Despite often knowing who the murderer is chapters ahead in a lot of novels, in The Poisoner’s Ring I had no idea, but not because Armstrong wrote something implausible. Every bit was plausible and I was on the path with Mallory trying to figure out whodunit–although Mallory is always 20 steps ahead.

I love the addition of adventurous Jack and sharp-tongued older sister to Duncan and Isla, Annis, as well as discoveries about housekeeper, Mrs. Mitchell.

Because I am enjoying this series so much, I do hope that Armstrong keeps Mallory and Duncan apart for a while as I like the tension between them and permanent coupling frequently ruins too many series. Not that can happen here because there may just be a deadline in the future caused by Mallory’s return home . . . and then what? It will be interesting to see.

I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves smartly written mysteries with time travel thrown in.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

ps The Poisoner’s Ring will be published on May 23, 2023 but you can pre-order from the above links and, if you haven’t already, read the first novel, A Rip Through Time.

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