Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins

For Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate, life is an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores until a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and someone close to Lucy falls under suspicion. Lucy can’t believe it, but in a time where the accused are presumed guilty until proven innocent, lawyers aren’t permitted to defend their clients, and—if the plague doesn't kill the suspect first—public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never find out what really happened. Unless, that is, she can uncover the truth herself.

Determined to do just that, Lucy finds herself venturing out of her expected station and into raucous printers’ shops, secretive gypsy camps, the foul streets of London, and even the bowels of Newgate prison on a trail that might lead her straight into the arms of the killer.

In her debut novel Murder at Rosamund's Gate, Susanna Calkins seamlessly blends historical detail, romance, and mystery in a moving and highly entertaining tale.


Lucy Campion is a chambermaid for the Magistrate in London. She becomes a bit of an amateur sleuth when her brother Will is falsely accused of a servant’s murder. Or when her brother is falsely accused of a murder, she becomes a bit of an amateur sleuth. One of the things I enjoy about reading historical fiction is the history in the story. The author, Susanna Calkins, does a nice job of painting a virtual picture of London in the 17th century and the constant struggle of women and station/class.
Trying to legally free someone of a crime without any prior law experience is one thing, but doing so as a young woman and especially as a servant, made Lucy very brave and ambitious in my eyes.

I loved her strong spirit and determination. Though for all her smarts, she tended to have some moments where her choices were questionable and not all that smart. With a killer on the loose murdering women, I thought she could have been a little more careful than she was.

All in all, A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate was an entertaining story with a mystery that wasn’t very obvious to solve and a little romance thrown in to make things a little more interesting. Readers who enjoy historical fiction with a light mystery should check this book out.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5.

**I received this book from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books in exchange for nothing, but my honest review.**



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