A Death Along the River Fleet
(Lucy Campion Mysteries #4) by Susanna Calkins
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Hardcover & eBook; 336 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Just as I settled in to the well-drawn atmosphere, a bloodied, distraught, and questionable figure stumbles across the scene. This author has such a lovely ease of narration that I did not realize the moment I was swept away into the sights and sounds until my feet were firmly planted on the grimy streets of 17th Century London.
The language is believable for the time and place, and you’ll find clear plot questions, misdirection, gentle layers of atmosphere and historical tone, and intriguing surrounding characters’ storylines. I enjoyed learning about the printing business during that time period, and Ms. Calkins adds information and action to each book so that your knowledge is increased while you are busy listening to Lucy try to sell odd (very odd) titles to the public.
Things are not easy for Lucy, and this brings out her character as we see her struggle, become misdirected, search for answers, interact with other characters, and challenge her views. I love the triangle between Lucy, Adam, and Duncan. I’m not sure yet who I vote for, and I don’t think Lucy knows either.
Not depending merely on narration, Ms. Calkins uses effective methods to bring out character in her story.
Interaction with others: We see how she interacts with not just her boss, but with the other house servants as well.
Handling of obstacles: Things are not easy for Lucy as she struggles to piece together why this strange woman is bloodied and roaming the streets of London. It is in that struggle that we see what Lucy is made of.
Inner dialogue: Lucy’s thoughts as she works through events and reacts to other characters is such fun and gives us a glimpse into what she really wants to say and what she ‘must’ say.
Other characters’ perceptions: Lucy is treated with kindness and respect (mostly) showing us that she is valued, intelligent, and worthy of inclusion in society.
This series is pure delight, an easy read, well written, and you will be totally immersed and absorbed. I highly recommend starting at book one so you can appreciate the journey. Bit by bit, like the block letters Lucy places in the printer’s trays, her story is formed, and her inner spirit takes shape with a sweet strength and gentle heart.
Lucy Campion, a ladies’ maid turned printer’s apprentice in 17th-century London, is crossing Holborn Bridge over the murky waters of the River Fleet one morning when, out of the mist, she sees a specter moving toward her. Frightened at first, Lucy soon realizes the otherworldly figure is in fact a young woman, clearly distraught and clad only in a blood-spattered white nightdress. Barely able to speak, the woman has no memory of who she is or what’s happened to her. The townspeople believe she’s possessed. But Lucy is concerned for the woman’s well-being and takes her to see a physician. When, shockingly, the woman is identified as the daughter of a nobleman, Lucy is asked to temporarily give up her bookselling duties to discreetly serve as the woman’s companion while she remains under the physician’s care.
As the woman slowly recovers, she begins—with Lucy’s help—to reconstruct the terrible events that led her to Holborn Bridge that morning. But when it becomes clear the woman’s safety might still be at risk, Lucy becomes unwillingly privy to a plot with far-reaching social implications, and she’ll have to decide just how far she’s willing to go to protect the young woman in her care.
Susanna Calkins has drawn a richly detailed portrait of a time in history and a young woman struggling against the bounds of her society in her next absorbing Lucy Campion mystery.
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. A Death Along the River Fleet is her fourth novel.
Lucy Campion Mystery Series