"Disturbing the Dead" By Kelley Armstrong: Review/Giveaway

Review by Cynthia Chow

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

After an attack inexplicably caused Mallory Atkinson to be transported to 1869 Scotland, the 30-something police officer has been living in the body of the blonde 20-year-old maid Catriona. It has taken the past six months for Mallory – and her story – to be accepted by her employer, Dr. Duncan Gray, and his chemist sister Isla. Forbidden to practice medicine due to legal snafus involved in grave digging for medical experiments, Gray works at his late father’s funeral parlor in Edinburgh. Gray and his other sister Lady Annis have just been invited to attend the unwrapping of mummies from Egypt at the home of Sir Alastair Christie, an event that is being protested by Florence King, who opposes what she sees as the desecration of a foreign man’s body. One of these protesters includes a member of the notorious” Edinburgh Seven, six women led by Sophia Jex-Blake to enroll in the male-only University of Edinburgh to study medicine.

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When the mummy is unwrapped and it turns out to be the body of the tardy Sir Alastair, Miss King becomes a suspect due to his having been one of those attempting to ban the women from the University. Sir Alastair also had a hand in removing Gray’s license to practice medicine, adding Gray to the list of possible culprits. Due to the laziness and incompetence of the police surgeon, it has been Gray and Mallory who have unofficially been working together to solve recent murders, and this spurs them on to investigate once again using Mallory’s modern-day forensic knowledge and Gray’s more practical medical skills. Just as Mallory and Gray’s still distrustful housekeeper circle in on a suspect, Mallory may find herself back where she thought she had wanted to be, but at the most inconvenient time.

Outlander, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, and (one of my favorite films) Somewhere in Time have all depicted their heroes traveling through time, but here Kelley Armstrong takes the unique approach of creating a body-swapping mystery series. The surprise for readers – and for Mallory herself - comes in just how well she has adapted to living without modern-day forensics, not to mention the outdated ideologies and technological inconveniences. While she desperately misses her parents and her ailing Nona, Mallory can’t deny how much she enjoys living in this new time period and the very unique household. Perhaps that is best explained in her connection with Duncan Gray, whose illegitimacy and mixed-race heritage has him also on the outside of society and forced to push for acceptance.

The story of the Edinburgh Seven is similarly fascinating, and readers will want to know more about these extraordinarily intelligent women who fought past the harassment of their fellow students to achieve their goals. Despite the gap of 150 years there are topics that resonate to both eras, be it the struggle for women working in male-dominated professions or respecting differing cultures.  This is an intriguing, original, and very well-written series that combines a historical mystery with a modern-day heroine.

To enter to win a copy of Disturbing the Dead, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "disturbing,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 22, 2024. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors!

You can click here to purchase this book.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).
 Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds like an interesting story.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. Would love to get a copy of this! tWarner419@aol.com

  3. That's interesting. I like reading about old forensic techniques. And I'm curious how she ended up in the past.

  4. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  5. New author to me. Thanks for offering the chance to win this book! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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