Murder and Printing in 17th-Century London

A Death Along the River Fleet: A Mystery, by Susanna Calkins, (Minotaur), 336 pages, release date 12 April, 2016

Minotaur, a publisher I rely on for good historical mysteries, has presented readers with another winner: Susanna Calkins’ A Death Along the River Fleet. Our heroine, Lucy Campion, is in the unusual position of being a female printer’s apprentice in 17th-Century London. Calkins depicts the time period effectively. Although a female printer’s apprentice may appear something of an anomaly, Lucy Campion, as presented, feels genuine. She recognizes her position as unusual and has worked hard to achieve it.

A Death Along the River Fleet opens with Lucy Campion, on her way to the print shop, suddenly confronted by a woman in a blood-stained nightgown. Not surprisingly, Lucy Campion quickly finds herself immersed in this woman’s story. The woman, it turns out, is a daughter of nobility, with no memory of how she came to be wandering the streets of London. Campion hopes to unravel the woman’s story—and as she tries to do this, it becomes clear that the threat the woman faced is still out there.

I find myself hoping that Lucy Campion will continue to experience adventures, and that I’ll be able to rejoin her thanks to the well-researched, engaging prose of Susanna Calkins. This fascinating woman has the depth and complexity to become a very rich figure indeed, one whose presence is every bit as engaging as the mysteries she solves.

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