Historical mysteries are a delight to read because they offer a glimpse into the past, but they are at their best when they also cause readers to reflect on the current state of life as well. Susanna Calkins’ Lucy Campion series does just that and the newest in that series, A Death Along the River Fleet, has just been released.
A Death Along the River Fleet wastes no time jumping into its plot. Just moments after beginning, our heroine, Lucy Campion, stumbles upon a woman on the Holborn Bridge. Since this woman is clad only in her undergarments and covered in dried blood, Lucy immediately knows that something is not right with the situation. Wanting to help, she takes the woman to a local doctor who decides that he will keep her at the clinic for observation if Lucy agrees to help as caregiver.
It is quickly determined that this woman has lost her memory and has no idea who she is or why she was in such a state of disarray when discovered. Interviews and investigation uncover that she is in fact a daughter of nobility, which only raises more questions.
This case allows Susanna Calkins to examine topics ranging from treatments for epilepsy to attitudes towards mental illness – all through a lens that looks at the disparity in justice between the rich and the poor. Sound familiar? Having Lucy Campion – an individual who bridges the gap between the working class and those in more elite positions – makes tackling such a contemporary feeling treatise seem completely realistic and inevitable.
While all of this is going on, Lucy is also dealing with her on-going feelings for two very different men. The strange case of this amnesic requires her to work closely with Constable Duncan, while her other suitor, Adam Hargrave, takes more of a back seat. Fans of the series no doubt have their loyalties with regards to this two potential love interests and by the end of this new novel, some new developments will impact Lucy’s ultimate choice.
Needless to say, the title of the book clues readers into that fact that there is a death involved, but Susanna Calkins keeps readers wrong-footed for long enough that when all is finally revealed a feeling of satisfaction and resolution is achieved. Calkins’ writing style is extremely readable and the way that she incorporates historical details never impedes the momentum of the narrative. There is just enough information about life in post-Great Fire London to add to the verisimilitude without inundating readers with unnecessary knowledge about the time period.
A Death Along the River Fleet is the fourth book featuring Lucy Campion and if Susanna Calkins continues to place her in such rich and complex mysteries, this series should be around for a long while.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.