A Murder at Rosamund's Gate Summary and Reviews

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate

A Lucy Campion Mystery

by Susanna Calkins

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2013
    352 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

In Susanna Calkins's atmospheric debut novel, a chambermaid must uncover a murderer in seventeenth-century plague-ridden London.

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 she loves is wrongly arrested for the crime. 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 them first - public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never see this person alive again. Unless, that is, she can identify the true murderer.

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, Susanna Calkins seamlessly blends historical detail, romance, and mystery into a moving and highly entertaining tale.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Calkin's debut mystery places her unusual detective in a world rich in carefully researched historical detail. Even mystery mavens who winkle out the killer may well enjoy the story anyway." - Kirkus

"Calkins makes Lucy's efforts to find the real killer entirely plausible, leading to a nail-biter climax with London in flames. This history-mystery delivers a strong heroine making her way through the social labyrinth of Restoration London. - Booklist

"The solution isn't quite at the same level as the other aspects of the plot, but the high-quality writing augurs well for future outings." - Publishers Weekly

"Susanna Calkins makes Restoration England come alive in her terrific debut, A Murder at Rosamund's Gate. Murder, romance, and flawless social history combine into a beautifully crafted mystery that captivates until the very last page." - Stefanie Pintoff, author of In the Shadow of Gotham

The information about A Murder at Rosamund's Gate shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Janet P. (Spokane, WA)

A great murder mystery
I was glued to this book from the first page. Period mysteries are my favorite, but so often the murderer is either obvious or a ridiculous character added at the last second to fulfill the author's need for a culprit. This was neither of those. The characters were well developed, the setting, believably 17th century London, and the plot was intriguingly believable. I'm not sure there were many serving women like Lucy in London at that time, but I'd love to believe that there were.

Jan

A Murder that kept me Guessing
I couldn't put down this book from the minute I picked it up. The period was displayed in a fascinating manner, the characters were true to life and well written and the mystery itself took me in and kept me reading. It was a book that I was sorry to see come to an end. I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and of mystery. The strong character of Lucy will remain in my mind as a wise brave heroine.

Roni S. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate
In her debut novel, Susanna Calkins does a wonderful job putting the reader in seventeenth century London, England. The author puts you there-experiencing the sights, smells, tastes and culture of the period. The main voice, Lucy is a chambermaid in a magistrate's house. Lucy's close friend and coworker is murdered. Lucy must search for the truth when her brother is wrongly accused of the murder. The author writes beautifully and I never lost interest. In this book the door is open for a sequel.

Norman G. (Washougal, WA)

Satisfying
At no time did I find myself let down by the plot or the characters as the novel moved along at a fast pace. The historical part of the novel gave an accurate picture into the life and views of the time and the people mainly voiced the prevailing sentiments of the era. The author gave enough hints as to who was committing the murders but kept it in doubt with several red herrings. For a first novel, though, I felt there were two weaknesses that kept it from being really excellent. The main character, Lucy, at times seemed to be exceptionally naive for someone so intelligent who understood the limitations of the times. She acted out of character at intervals. Also, while the ending tied up the story nicely, the last two pages seemed to be written only so the reader knew there would be other novels coming. It gave an artificial aspect that left me wondering if Susanna Calkins could not have invested more time in making it less obvious about her intentions. Lucy and Adam were so strongly romantic that the rational speeches by both felt out of place in the final pages.

Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate: History and Mystery
I am in novel heaven... seventeenth century England and a chambermaid with the good sense of a Kinsey Milhone and none of the modern conveniences. The historical references are accurate (a novelist has the privilege and the obligation to create details for the sake of the story) and the mystery is great fun - a murder to solve. There is more than a hint of a new series here and as Kinsey reaches the end of her alphabet, I am looking forward to getting involved in Lucy Campion's adventures at the magistrate's house in London. Murder/mysteries are my candy and my summer vacations. This is a winner.

Carol G. (Little Egg Harbor, NJ)

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate
Great read! Loved it from page 1. A beautiful mystery that keeps one guessing. I loved reading about this period in English history as well. I think the ending could have been stronger and may not please all but overall a definite recommendation.

...24 more reader reviews

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Susanna Calkins became fascinated with seventeenth century England while pursuing her doctorate in British history and uses her fiction to explore this chaotic period. Originally from Philadelphia, Calkins now lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two sons. This is her first novel. Visit her at susannacalkins.com

Dear Reader,

The crime at the heart of A Murder at Rosamund's Gate came to me when I was a graduate student in history. I'd been pouring through ballads and broadsides—the penny press that served as both a source of exaggerated news and a cheap entertainment in seventeenth-century England—and I was struck by the same story that appeared again and again.

These "true accounts" would speak of a woman who'd been found stabbed in a secluded glen or a deserted field. In her pocket, the investigating authorities often found a letter, purportedly from the killer. In this letter, he would usually tell his victim to meet him at 'such-and-such deserted location.' Then he would sign the letter, with either his given name or his initials.

The case seemed open and shut.

Yet, every time I read one of these accounts, I had to wonder: Why didn't the killer search his victim for incriminating evidence before he fled the scene? Didn't it ever occur to him that she might bring the letter—you know, the one with his initials—with her to their rendezvous? I also would wonder: Why did the victims agree to meet these killers? Or perhaps, most simply of all, was some other chap being framed for the crime? No matter what, the story was not just sad, but incomplete.

In some ways, A Murder at Rosamund's Gate became the answer to the questions that never got asked—Who was this woman? Why had she agreed to meet her killer? Did she know him, or had she been tricked? And perhaps most important of all—would she get the justice she deserved?

I decided to focus my story around Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate. Lucy's 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 is wrongly arrested for the crime. 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 them first—public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never see her loved one alive again. Unless, that is, she can identify the true murderer.

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.

I hope you enjoy the first in this series featuring Lucy Campion!

Cheers!

Susanna

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