Minotaur Books, 2013
Crime Fiction; 352 pgs
I am unable to resist a historical mystery, and when looking over upcoming books for a meme earlier this year, I added this title to it without a second thought. Coming across it on NetGalley seemed too good to be true, so I put in my request.
From the Publisher:
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.
There was something very familiar about this novel as I read. I told my husband a couple times it seemed like I'd read it before, although I knew that could not be true. The book has just been released this year. Even so, I enjoyed the novel quite a bit, particularly the historical detail the author, Susanna Calkins, put into the story.
The time period the novel is set in is a perfect source for conflict--so much is going on. It was a time of great change, both political and religious. Not to mention one of great tragedy with the great plague and a fire that devastated the city. Add to that the fictional crime, murder. The author does a good job of creating a story around these events, although it did feel like the murder itself was forgotten for awhile there. While understandable given the circumstances the characters faced, it made me wonder what genre I was reading.
It didn't hurt my overall enjoyment of the novel, however. I do enjoy a good historical novel regardless. And Lucy Campion was a charming character to spend time with. I loved how selfless and forward thinking she was. She is a character I can get behind and admire.
As much as I liked Lucy, I was even more fond of Cook, and quite enjoyed the time I got to spend with her. She seemed level headed and quite caring. The Magistrate was another favorite character of mine. Although I didn't agree with him on every point, he seemed like a fair and thoughtful man.
I can't imagine what it must have been like to be a woman in that time period. The book is set in 1665, a time when the separation of classes was quite severe and women were not given much credit for their brains. I was particularly drawn to the conflict between the Church and the Quakers and the evolving shift of a country from Catholicism to Anglican. The author did a good job of capturing the mood and tone of the time period.
The murder mystery itself was intriguing, and the author did a good job of keeping this reader guessing! The climax was quite intense. There is romance mixed in as well, for those who like more spark in there mysteries. A Murder at Rosamund's Gate is a great start to a promising new series, and I look forward to seeing what Susanna Calkins's brings us next.
You can learn more about Susanna Calkins and her book on the author's website.
Source: E-copy provided by publisher through NetGalley.