Reviews for The poisoner's ring

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

In her second time-bending mystery (after 2022’s A Rip Through Time), Armstrong again pulls off a conceit that might land as ludicrous in less-gifted hands. In 2019, 30-year-old homicide detective Mallory Atkinson is attacked while visiting Edinburgh and loses consciousness, only to regain it “through some inexplicable whim of the universe” in 1869, in the body of 19-year-old maid Catriona Mitchell. Catriona is employed by Duncan Gray, an undertaker who works with the Scottish police as a medical examiner. Duncan soon figures out that his servant’s body harbors the soul of a detective, and he enlists her to assist him in a special investigation: ferreting out information about a rumored ring of women who’ve been poisoning their loved ones. When Duncan’s half sister is suspected of poisoning her husband, the case takes on added urgency. Armstrong fashions a satisfying narrative out of familiar parts and nails her lead’s cheeky, anachronistic narration. This is winningly silly and satisfying. Agent: Lucienne Diver, Knight Agency. (May)

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In this sequel to A Rip Through Time, time-traveling modern-day homicide detective Mallory Atkinson is still stuck in Victorian Edinburgh in another woman's body, but now her real identity is known to her employers, Dr. Duncan Gray (an undertaker/medical examiner to whom Mallory serves as assistant) and his chemist sister Isla. She's soon drawn into another murder investigation with Duncan and police detective Hugh McCreadie: Men have been dying of poisoning in Edinburgh, and their widows are accused of killing them. The latest such death is personal—the Grays' sister Annis has been accused of poisoning her husband, Lord Gordon Leslie. The newspapers and the scandalous broadsheets have a field day when they learn that Lady Leslie's sister is a chemist who could have provided the toxin that killed the lord. But then Mallory recognizes the signs of a poison not readily accessible in Edinburgh in 1869. She, Duncan, and Hugh will have a difficult time finding the single manipulative villain who they believe must be at the heart of four seemingly unrelated murders. VERDICT Armstrong's intriguing and atmospheric time-travel mystery will appeal to readers who enjoy historical detail.—Lesa Holstine

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A time traveler solves a string of grisly murders. While in Edinburgh attending her dying grandmother, Canadian police detective Mallory Mitchell found herself inexplicably inserted into the body of a Victorian housemaid. Fortunately, the Gray family, whom she now serves, is just unconventional enough to accept her account of the transposition at face value, even to the point of calling her by her modern-day name rather than Catriona, the name of the now-missing maid. In return for their generosity, Mallory agrees to help youngest child Duncan Gray in his criminal investigations, which he undertakes alongside his day job as a mortician. Their latest challenge is to track down a purported ring of homicidal wives who do away with their unwanted spouses through an untraceable toxin that Mallory recognizes as thallium, which is so little known in 1860s Scotland that even Duncan’s chemist sister, Isla, is unaware of it. Their search for the killers becomes all the more urgent when Duncan’s oldest sister, Annis, is suspected of poisoning her own husband, the philandering Lord Leslie. Armstrong embellishes her already elaborate mise-en-scène with enough steampunk trappings—dimly lit bars, knife fights, and secret laboratories chock full of poisons—to satisfy die-hard fans of Victoriana. But the real interest lies in observing the offbeat Gray family and seeing how the involuntary time traveler integrates into their equally loopy world. Highly niche but effective. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.