Title: The Masque of a Murderer (Lucy Campion Mysteries #3)
Author: Susanna Calkins
Publisher: Minotaur Books (Macmillan)
Release Date: April 14, 2015
In Susanna Calkins’ next richly drawn mystery set in 17th century England, Lucy Campion, formerly a ladies’ maid in the local magistrate’s household, has now found gainful employment as a printer’s apprentice. On a freezing winter afternoon in 1667, she accompanies the magistrate’s daughter, Sarah, to the home of a severely injured Quaker man to record his dying words, a common practice of the time. The man, having been trampled by a horse and cart the night before, only has a few hours left to live. Lucy scribbles down the Quaker man’s last utterances, but she’s unprepared for what he reveals to her—that someone deliberately pushed him into the path of the horse, because of a secret he had recently uncovered.
Fearful that Sarah might be traveling in the company of a murderer, Lucy feels compelled to seek the truth, with the help of the magistrate's son, Adam, and the local constable. But delving into the dead man’s background might prove more dangerous than any of them had imagined.
In The Masque of a Murderer, Susanna Calkins has once again combined finely wrought characters, a richly detailed historical atmosphere, and a tightly-plotted mystery into a compelling read.
Praise for the Lucy Campion Mystery Series
"...the high-quality writing augurs well for future outings." - Publisher's Weekly
"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
"Calkins' debut mystery places her unusual detective in a world rich in carefully researched historical detail." - Kirkus
"A historical mystery with originality and great attention to detail. Readers are transported to 17th century England, a time when social classes were just beginning to change. The characters are multi-dimensional--including the smart, adventurous Lucy Campion--and the mystery will keep readers turning the pages, and they'll eagerly await the next book in the series." - RT Book Reviews (4 Stars)
"...an intricate tale of fraud and blackmail, leavened by a touch of romance. Calkins, who holds a doctorate in British history, puts her knowledge to sparkling use in this intriguing mystery, which combines a gripping plot with rich historical detail and one of the most admirable protagonists in the genre." - The Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Calkins is able to seamlessly weave this romance into the story without making it the main plot line, and keeping the mystery the main focus of the story....The puzzles, anagrams, and many secrets combine to make intertwining plot twists that keep the pages turning. From the Charred Remains is an exciting, secret filled, historical mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end." - Fresh Fiction (Reviewer's Pick)
“A good yarn and a fascinating look at life in England in a time when things began to change...social classes, positions, servants' rights...all because of plague and fire.” - Book Babe Blog
“For me, this book was more than a mystery. It was an eye-opening look at what London was like in the mid-1660s, including the plague and fire that ravaged London, class struggle, the plight of women, and the laws of the time. The author's engaging writing style made it easy to slip back into the past and experience these things with Lucy.” - Book of Secrets
“A Murder at Rosamund's Gate is Susanna Calkins' absorbing debut novel. Just a warning that time WILL easily slip away as you become engrossed in this historical fiction mystery.” - 1776 Books: A Philadelphian's Literary Journey
Susanna Calkins' Guest Post
The murders in my novels are largely described through ballads, broadsides and other penny pieces, which is how 17th century Londoners would have learned about crimes within their community.
Murder was literally described in verse, sung by booksellers on street corners, in a sort of a half fictional, half truthful way. My heroine, Lucy Campion, who became a printer’s apprentice in From the Charred Remains, had to learn to sing about murder while selling books in the streets.
Take, for example, this 1660s ballad which I chose at random from the Early English Books--a large collection of penny press from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
As always, the title provides a synopsis to the reader (or listener, as neighbors and friends would read these ballads out loud): The downfall of William Grismond: or, A lamentable murder by him committed at Lainterdine in the county of Hereford, the 22 of March, 1650, with his woful [sic] lamentation.
|REFERENCE for image: Wing / 2705:15
If you just look at the first part, you'll see the author specifies that the murder ballad should be sung to the tune of "Where is my love."
(Ironic, of course, given that his love is lying on the ground, having been murdered at his hands. The audience would have gotten the joke).
But the point is that the story wasn't meant to be just read, but sung according to a well known popular tune.
[A version of this appeared on my blog, www.susannacalkins.com)
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About the Author
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Susanna Calkins lives in Highland Park, Illinois with her husband and two sons, where she is an educator at Northwestern University. With a PhD in history, her historical mysteries feature Lucy Campion, a 17th century chambermaid-turned-printer’s apprentice. Her first novel, A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate, was a finalist for the Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award (Macavity). The second in this series, From the Charred Remains, is currently a finalist for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award. Her third, The Masque of a Murderer, will be released in April 2015.
For more information and to subscribe to Susanna Calkins’ newsletter please visit her website. You can also follow her blog, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
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