I am always happy when I read a new-to-me author and enjoy his/her book so much that I add the author to my Favorite Authors list. Susanna Calkins is the newest author I am adding to this “exclusive” list.
Before I started reading Susanna Calkins’ A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate, I knew that it would be historically accurate. I knew this because Calkins has her doctorate in British History, and teaches at Northwestern University – which is no small feat! Calkins has attached an “Historic Note” at the very end of this mystery explaining any liberties she took in order to ensure the reader a pleasurable mystery read.
I would definitely label Calkins’ A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate as an historical Cozy Mystery. While it does deal with adult themes (it is written for adults) there is no graphic language or sex, and it is also lacking in excessive gore. I am hoping that the Agatha Awards’ new Historical Novels category has this book listed as one of this year’s best!
A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate follows Lucy Campion, a chambermaid in the London home of a 17th century magistrate. As a chambermaid, Lucy’s time is not her own. She is fortunate to work for a particularly kind magistrate; however she still has to perform the daily chores those times dictated she perform.
Calkins’ London is not a sugar-coated version; there is poverty, sickness, and over-crowding outside of the magistrate’s house. Lucy knows she is lucky to work in a fair man’s home, and tries not to jeopardize her job – which forces her to find clever ways to follow the mystery’s clues.
Calkins’ characters are three-dimensional and very believable. She not only introduces us to her very likeable Lucy, but also to Lucy’s family, coworkers, and friends. Even the secondary characters in A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate are people I look forward to seeing again.
Lucy’s sleuthing makes perfect sense in the context of the story. It is not simply an interest that this very busy and (more than likely) tired young chambermaid devotes her time to. There’s a reason Lucy wants to solve this mystery. (I don’t want to say too much and give away any of the plot, so that others can enjoy the book.)
Calkins shows us how the British class system in the 17th century dictated every aspect of a Londoner’s life – including the way he/she would be treated by the judicial system. Calkins is able to weave London’s 17th century judicial system into the mystery in a way that piqued my interest.
Susanna Calkins‘ A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate has plenty of red herrings, a delightful young sleuth, a very solid mystery, and very enjoyable easy-to-read writing. (I was so interested in the characters and plot that I actually read this 357 page book in three days, which is a record for me!)
I hope Susanna Calkins will be releasing the second book in the Lucy Campion Mystery Series soon. I am definitely looking forward to spending more time with Lucy Campion as she solves many more mysteries.
P.S. I liked this book so much that I bought another copy as a gift for my adult daughter. (That’s a first for me for Kindle books!)
If you’re interested in reading more of these brief revisits of some of the more popular Cozy Mystery Series that I’ve written in the past, you can find them at the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.