Audiobook Review: The Poisoner’s Ring by Kelley Armstrong

Posted July 2, 2024 by Lucy D in Audiobook, Book Reviews, Mystery / 0 Comments

Audiobook Review:  The Poisoner’s Ring by Kelley ArmstrongThe Poisoner's Ring (A Rip Through Time, #2) by Kelley Armstrong
Series: A Rip Through Time #2
Published by Macmillan Audio on May 23, 2023
Genres: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Kate Handford
Length: 14 hrs 52 min
Source: Audible
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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.


I am obsessed! This series is so much fun.

After being attacked in an alley while investigating the screams of a young woman, Det. Mallory Atkinson has body-swapped with a young Victorian housemaid named Catriona Mitchell.

Following the case and the investigation which occurred in A Rip in Time,  Dr. Duncan Gray and Isla Ballentyne are aware of that their housemaid isn’t the 19-year-old thief, but is actually a 30 year old, police detective from the future.  There is a little awkwardness as they don’t want to treat her like a housemaid but they also can’t start treating her like a member of the family.   Mallory doesn’t mind helping out around the house and earning her place when she isn’t helping Duncan with his forensic research but she is an educated woman who would be a peer.  She will be working with Duncan as his assistant, and shouldn’t still be cleaning chamberpots.   As part of this sudden change to Catriona’s personality due to her “head injury” and her desire to be a better person, everyone is now calling her Mallory.

While Duncan, Isla and Det. Hugh McCreadie all know about Mallory and are using her skills and knowledge of  future forensics and police work.   Young Alice, the other housemaid, and the housekeeper, Mrs Wallace, doesn’t know about Mallory and still doesn’t trust that Catriona isn’t working a scam on the family or trying for aa elevated place in the world as Duncan’s mistress instead of assistant.

In the Poisoner’s Ring, it does not, much to Mallory’s disappointment, refer to a lovely ring where women hide poison.   No, as several men of different classes are suddenly dropping dead of poison, the police fear that someone is helping the wives get rid of their unwanted spouses by providing poison.  The Police ME, a man whose family connections more than his great works got him the position, is more interested in Mallory’s cleavage than actually providing medical science to explain an usual death.   He has declared that arsenic is the culprit but Mallory recognizes the signs of Thallium poisoning–a metal that neither Duncan or his chemist sister are overly familiar with.

When the latest victim of this poison turns out to be Lord Leslie, the husband of Duncan and Isla’s older sister, Lady Annis Leslie.   Annis is a brash woman who is hard to like, except by her long-time friend, Sarah.  Even while Duncan and Isla make excuses for her, Mallory will do whatever she can to help Duncan and McCreadie find out where the poison is coming from before people being to speculate where else would someone like Lady Annis get poison from but her chemist sister, Isla Ballentyne.   Mallory won’t let anything happen to her new friend, Isla.

Mallory and Duncan need to figure out what a Scottish lord, a gravedigger and a disgraced real estate salesmen have in common that all ended with them being poisoned by the same method.

This was an intriguing investigation as Mallory and Duncan try to connect the dots using Victorian forensics and investigations.

We are also introduced to some new and very interesting characters in Lady Annis, who appears haughty, bigoted and cold but will risk imprisonment to protect her siblings; and young Jack, a young woman who presents herself as a young man, for protection and ease of travel around the streets of the old town.

For those who, like Mrs Wallace, are looking for an affair between Mallory and Dr Duncan Gray, please know that while young Catriona was never of any interest to Dr. Gray, the older and educated Det. Mallory Atkinsson has definitely caught his attention, but for many, many reasons, including employer/employee relationship and the fact that Mallory is borrowing the body of young Catriona, this series is definitely going  to be a slow burn romance. 🙁


Favorite Scene:

The lobby smells of lavender but under it, cheroot smoke permeates the place.  A low rumble sounds from below. One I hadn’t noticed until everything went quiet. I pretend not to hear it, even when a thump follows.

“We’ve been told to ask for Jack,” I say.

The desk clerk’s head rises at that and she peers at me, and then puts on a pair of spectacles and peers some more. When she looks at Isla, her frown deepens. I told Isla to ‘dress down’ for this excursion, but that only means she’s wearing the dress that she uses in the laboratory. Like all her late morning-wear, it’s a shade of gray and very simple, with nothing more than a bit of pretty black and silver trim above the cuffs and hem. It’s still exquisite workmanship and in this time period, another woman is going to recognize that.

“You don’t belong here, lasses.” She turns to Simon. “Take them on back to the New Town. This isn’t a stop on Black’s Walking Tour.”

“As I said, I was told to ask for Jack,” I say, firmer.

“I do not knew who you mean.”

“If she’s around, then please tell her it is Dr. Gray’s assistant, Mallory. If she is not, then I would like to leave a message and I believe she will want to receive it.”

Her look changes as soon as I say she. It’s appraising now.  A wrestling has me looking over to see Isla opening her purse. I subtlely shake my head. Here too is where she lacks her brother’s experience. Gray knows when and how to offer a bribe and she only knows that it works when he does it.

“Dr. Gray you say,” the woman says.

“Yes. Of Robert Street. My name is Mallory.”

“Bob,” the woman barks, loud enough that we all give a start. She has to call again before a door down the hall opens. Someone whoops in the basement and a cheer rings out. The woman glowers at the boy hurrying her way.

“Did I not tell you to close the door behind you?” She turns to us. “You’ll have to excuse the noise ladies, they are having a game of cards downstairs.”

“Cards?” I say. “I’d heard this was a fight club. Oh, right. I forgot.  The first rule of Fight Club–don’t talk about Fight Club.”

Simon glances over. “Is there a second rule?”

“Yep. Don’t talk about Fight Club.”

“In case one missed the first rule?”


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