McElwain, Julie. A Twist in Time. Pegasus. Apr. 2017. 464p. ISBN 9781681773643. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681773971. MYS
This sequel to A Murder in Time has FBI agent Kendra Donovan still in 1815 London, working as a rather unorthodox ladies maid at Aldridge Castle. She strives to downplay her investigative talents; nonetheless, she was instrumental in capturing a serial murderer. Now Kendra plans to return to the stairwell one month from the day she was transported from her own time, hoping the portal opens again and returns her to her former life. In the meantime, Lady Dover is found murdered. The main suspect is Alec Morgan, nephew to the Duke of Aldridge, Kendra’s employer. Handsome and charming, Alec is also Kendra’s confidant and perhaps soul mate. With his support and standing in the community, Kendra immediately inserts herself into the investigation. Lacking a modern-day forensic lab, she uses her wit and keen observations to solve the puzzle. VERDICT For the full effect, read the acclaimed series launch before delving into this treasure. The author does not address whether, as a time traveler, Kendra’s actions will affect the future, but the intricacy of the plot teamed with the romance between Alec and Kendra make this a nonissue.—Susan Carr, Edwardsville P.L., IL
Winawer, Melodie. The Scribe of Siena. Touchstone. May 2017. 464p. ISBN 9781501152252. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501152276. F
This first novel is a captivating portrait of medieval Siena as seen through the eyes of a 21st-century neurosurgeon. Beatrice Trovato attempts to re-create her late brother’s research into the transmission of the Black Death in the mid-14th century and mysteriously finds herself living in the city months before the plague is set to begin its ravage across Europe. She is wrapped up in Siena’s particularly severe encounter with the disease, and whether that virulence might have been somehow deliberate. As she moves from protecting her brother’s legacy to experiencing it for herself, she falls in love with the medieval city and with an artist named Gabriele Accorsi. Running afoul of nefarious evildoers in both time periods, Beatrice is forced to choose between the life she knows and the place and people she has come to love. VERDICT This mixture of history, time travel, and romance with its hint of mystery will remind historical fiction readers of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Tracy Chevalier’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Sf fans will recall Connie Willis’s The Doomsday Book. Lovers of meticulously researched historical fiction and time-travel narratives will be swept away by the spell of medieval Siena.