A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In 1665, Lucy Campion is a chambermaid in the household of a London magistrate. He is an honorable man, and the family is kind to their staff, even allowing them to join the family at evening meals when there are no guests and encouraging Lucy's participation in the after-supper discussion of texts the magistrate reads out loud. This routine is disrupted, however, when a series of young, pregnant serving girls is found murdered and the crimes hit too close to home. Lucy is determined to find justice and exonerate the innocent, lest the dead keep haunting her dreams. Her quest is interrupted by plague and complicated by social hierarchy as she risks her own life and virtue to uncover the killer.
There were enough twists and red herrings in the story to keep me from guessing the killer--always a plus. My one quibble is that Adam, the magistrate's grown son, is a bit uneven in characterization, especially related to his actions and treatment of Lucy. Yes, he is drawn toward her, and yes, he feels honor-bound to leave her alone, but his behavior is a pendulum that swings a little too far for plausibility, in my opinion. Still, I have high hopes that their relationship will be better developed over time in subsequent novels.
I received a free advance reading copy (ARC) of this book from Bookbrowse.com, and I'm excited to discover a new mystery author to follow, for this is the first in a new series by debut author Susanna Calkins. I really appreciated the Historical Note at the end of the book, detailing how the author worked to make the novel historically accurate aside from some minor tweaks to things like the duties of magistrates and constables, as well as updates to the spelling and phrasing.
For readers' advisors: character and setting doorways, primarily, with story secondary. There was no sex and only very mild historical swearing, to the best of my recollection.
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