From The Booking Desk:

When the first Lucy Campion book came out in 2013, I was an instant fan of Susanna Calkins. You can find the BOLO Books review of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate here. Susanna is back this week with the third novel featuring Lucy. I am thrilled to welcome her here at BOLO Books to tell us all a bit more about the title of her latest historical mystery.


Masque, Not Mask

No one has explicitly asked me about this (yet), but I sometimes wonder if readers think I’m being cutesy with the title of my third historical novel, The Masque of a Murderer.

Let me explain.

Set in 17th century England, Masque features Lucy Campion, a chambermaid-turned-printer’s apprentice who has accompanied her friend to the home of a dying Quaker. The man is slowly succumbing to injuries sustained from being run over by a horse-drawn cart, and Lucy is pressed to record his final testimony, a common practice of the time.

Before he draws his last breath, the man tells Lucy that his death was no accident and that he had, in fact, been pushed in front of the cart. To make matters worse, he has come to suspect that his murderer might even be someone known to Lucy’s friend and other members of the close-knit community of London Quakers.

The titles of my novels all take their names from fictitious tracts and ballads that Lucy helps create and/or sell on the streets of London. So the masque referred to in the title is not the kind of mask that someone would wear, but rather refers to a type of courtly entertainment popular in 16th and early 17th century England. The masque, as a type of dramatic production, was no longer common in the 1660s when my books are set, but the concept would still have been understood by a general audience (even if most people would never have participated in one).

I just liked the idea that the murderer—a very deceptive individual—might have created a grand entertainment to amuse, mock, and mislead everyone around himself or herself. The idea that one person might be able to pull strings and make others dance was an intriguing concept to me, and of course to Lucy, who actually writes the penny piece called The Masque of a Murderer. 

From The Booking Desk:

Just that little tidbit has me anxious to read The Masque of a Murderer. I hope that you feel the same way. Please check out all of Susanna Calkins books and if you see her at any of the crime fiction conventions, be sure to say hi!