Apr 25 2013 8:30am

Fresh Meat: A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins

A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins is a historical mystery set in London during the Restoration (available April 23, 2013).

I’m the type of reader who loves a thrill ride, especially set in somewhere unfamiliar and fascinating. Which makes me not quite the right reader for this beautifully written book.

A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate is set in the time after Charles II’s Restoration in London, and revolves around a servant trying to solve the murder of her friend. I was eager to read a mystery set in the time period, as it’s one not normally covered in mysteries.

The story, a debut by Susanna Calkins, has a great many strengths. I was immersed in the world of Lucy Campion, a maid in the home of a well-to-do family in London. The upstairs/downstairs division between Lucy and her fellow servants and the family they serve was particularly well-drawn, and her duties and responsibilities were laid out in fascinating detail, including how to get rid of household waste. The trips to the market were similarly interesting, especially when, early on, Lucy is slyly able to retrieve an item stolen and return it to the rightful owner. There’s also a lovely sequence in which the servants gather at a local party while their employers celebrate in more royal style.

The murder of one of her fellow maids, which seems connected to a previous death, sets Lucy on an investigation to find the culprit, especially after her brother is accused of the crime. In this, she has the help of the heir of the house, though it’s unclear whether he is helper or killer for a long time. The climax, set during the Great Fire in London, is exciting and the reveal of the murderer’s identity.

The story itself moves slowly. At times, it seems far more interested in detailing Lucy’s everyday life than in the murder plot and the secondary romantic plot. I could put this down without worrying about the characters, partly because, while I admired Lucy, her actions seemed inconsistent. She’s well versed in the downstairs politics but for a girl growing up after tragedy in her life, she seems a little too naïve about sex or the perils related to men’s attention. At one point, she goes to visit her brother in prison and encounters several threats to her person. I’d call it an act of courage but Lucy seems unaware of how dangerous descending into a prison, even to visit, could be.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves historical details and a fascinating glimpse into the time period, and the book does pick up after about 200 pages. I just wish the mystery had been as enthralling as their everyday life.

This Sweepstakes has ended. Check out current opportunites at our Sweepstakes feature page.

To enter for a chance to win one of 5 Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins, make sure you’re logged in as a registered member of the site, and then simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) April 25, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 9:29 a.m. ET on May 2, 2013 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

Read more coverage of new releases with our Fresh Meat series.

Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, thought not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom Blog on ( and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.

Read all posts by Corrina Lawson for Criminal Element.

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4. maryc
I enjoy historical mysteries - this looks interesting.
alyce poalillo
5. alycep
I love historical mysteries so this would be a great win for me.
6. susan wiener
luv to win. thx
Lorena Keech
7. llkee
I haven't read any other mysteries set in this time period, so it looks quite interesting.
Anne Joyce
12. ajoyim
I enjoy a good historical mystery and this one looks like a wonderful read!
Ava A Chavez
13. ava_ann01
Love love love the letter in her hand, on the cover....Such an art form!
Pam Howell
16. phowell13
I love thrillers and this time period sounds fascinating for a mystery.
Sue Farrell
17. Suekey12
I like books set in this time period that are about "real" people instead of the aristocracy.
Bonnie Karoly
18. grobiemum
I love mysteries and the setting of this book looks good. I like historical novels.
bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com
Deborah Dumm
19. deb730
historical mysteries are the best!!!!!!!!!!
Ann Stolinsky
20. gontzagames
This sounds very interesting. I love historical novels.
Tony Fitzpatrick
21. fitzp100
I miss London. I would love to read this book and reminisce.
Dorothy Newmark
24. bookgirl1
What a wonderful premise: a mystery involving the serving class in the period of the Restoration. This debut work by Susanna Calkins sounds like a really good read!
Juanita Foster
25. J.R.
The cover is very intriging and the description sounds like a compelling read.
Joyce Mitchell
26. JoyceLm
Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the review.
Anna Mills
27. Anna Mills
Okay, to be sure, upstairs/ downstairs says it all. This has to be read!! And preferably by me.
gwendolyn bruno
28. missmermaid
I love a good historical mystery. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
Doris C. Losey
30. loseydoris
Can't wait to read--I love historical mysteries.
Linda Patterson
I'm an Anglophile. What can I say? There isn't a month that goes by that I don't consume an English mystery or two. This sounds delightful!
Allison Moyer
32. The Loopy Librarian
I enjoy all historical fiction because it grants a glimpse into a world and a time in a way that history textbooks cannot. Historical fiction brings history to life.
Deanna Stillings
33. reader123
Sounds like a good read. I like historical fiction. Dee
Cindi Hoppes
34. CindiHoppes
The setting is a favorite of mine and historical suspense
is fabulous!
Thanks very much...
Rosemary Simm
35. Ocalarose
Oh, a historical thriller with the help sleuthing around to add lots
of suspense. I love it!! Drop my name into the hat for a chance to win A Murder at Rosemund's Cafe. Sounds like a great read.
Patricia Nicklas
36. pmernick
Historical mysteries are my favorite. Thanks for the giveaway!
Bob Alexander
37. rx_alex
Historical mysteries are my favorite.
38. Mary M.
It sounds interesting!
Pat Murphy
40. murphyp2011
Enjoy historical mysteries. Count me in. Always looking for new authors to read.
Ginny Horton
42. oregongin
I'd love a chance to win this book. The book sounds tantalizing. I love the author's description of herself and would love to see if that translates into her work.
Terry Heald
47. TerryH
I'd really enjoy reading an historical crime mystery. I'm in on this one!
49. keizerfire
Another to add to my list!
Lisa Richardson
50. keizerfire
Aargh, I wish it would show red before you posted, lol!! Would love to win this!
d r almon
51. catladyofmacomb
I would certainly like to win a copy of this book. I enjoy historical mysteries, and this seems to be a new type of dectective.
Bill Jankun
55. classyjudge
Can't beat the combination of historical fiction and a mystery!!
Lisa Richardson
56. keizerfire
Life has certainly changed since the setting of this story! At least for most of us.
57. Bruce Simon
I love historical mysteries . If it is anything like Anne Perry, count me in. The richness of the period will always keep me interested.
60. mosaix
Death of a maid! Yes!
61. normajean
Love historical mysteries, especially when they go into detailing everyday life. Thanks for the chance to win.
Rosa Abraham
62. ravensfan
This book sounds cool. Would love to win it!
Phyllis Sinclair
65. psinclair
Historical fiction with a mystery...what fun to read.
66. Gail Dickey
Looks like a good read. I enjoy a good british mystery.
68. BeaCharmed
Excellent review and I agree. It's also the first in a seres.

I'm not entering as I already have an ARC.
susan beamon
70. susanbeamon
I haven't read a mystery set in the more civilized city set in this time period. It would be interesting to see how the author handles the difficulties of a servent moving about freely enough to solve a crime, even with the help of one of the upper classes. Most detective of these eras are people of means. I'd like to read the book and add it to my library.
Brenda Tucker
71. rango3
I love English mysteries of this period. Good read.
Karen Terry
72. bblol65
I normally don't historical mysteries, but I would love to give it a try.
Eva Moller
73. barna254
A historical murder mystery! I'l love to read it!
lynette barfield
74. lynette
I am a thriller fan. This would be a new time period. Would love a copy.
Louis Burklow
75. Nash62
It's great reading mysteries set in historical eras I don't know a great deal about - educational and thrilling. This would be great to read.
Jane Squires
76. squiresj
Please enter me to win this. I would love to review it.
80. LMW43
This looks interesting. I enjoy a cracking good historical mystery!
Melissa Keith
82. melly801 guys are 'killing' me! I absolutely love historical British mysteries!
My mum and I love reading about the 'upstairs/downstairs division'. I would LOVE to win this book!! TA!
*in case you're wondering...'TA' is brogue for 'thank you'* :-)

vicki wurgler
83. bison61
I do love to read historical mysteries
Elizabeth Vollbach
85. techeditor
It doesn't look like I left a comment yet. I'd like to read this, so thanks.
Sheila Korman
86. skkorman
I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
Suzanne Gonneville
88. Thumbs
Corrina Lawson dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane while I hoped to be Little Lulu . . . .
Karen Cherubino
89. kcherubtx
I appreciate your review. I like historical mysteries and reading about London in this time period would be very interesting.
Maya Amis
90. mayat7
I have loved the Restoration as a setting for historical mysteries ever since I read John Dickson Carr's Devil in Velvet. I love the sound of this story.
Kathy Fannon
91. Kathy F
The story sounds interesting. I'd love to win a copy.
Deb Mosora
92. debmsra
I love mysteries and would love to win this one.
Bruce Hamilton
93. deerwalker
Never read much about this time period so would love to try.
Juli Lear
94. jlear
I love historical fiction---looks very interesting!
Kelley Tackett
96. tackettfamilyky
The link for this contest isn't working either. This book sounds fascinating!
Britt Chapman
100. BookHabitue
I would love to review this on my blog!!
Meredith Peters
102. meredlp
Historical mysteries are my favorite. This looks intriguing.
Bob Keck
103. ky2here
I appreciate a tight, well-written historical crime drama.
Kari Flores
104. kari944
I love historical murder mysteries, can't wait to read this book.
kathy pease
106. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
Brenda Elsner
107. brat52101
Sounds like a good historical mystery!!
Cassandra Marquez
108. cassandraashley
would really love to read this! i love anything with a historical basis.
110. CherylMc
Looks to be a good read.
Shirley Zolenski
111. daveshir2005
Awesome giveaway!!! Thanks
Jane Squires
112. squiresj
I love this review and would love to win and review this.
Buddy Garrett
It sounds like a great read. Thanks for the giveaway.
Heather Cowley
115. choochoo
Looks mysterious! I'd love to read it. Thanks!
Debra Kidle
118. lubelle
Sounds so interesting, count me in!
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