A Death Along the River Fleet, by Susanna Calkins

A Death Along the River Fleet
A Death Along the River Fleet

Lucy Campion is a very lucky girl for her day and age. Less than a year after the Great Fire of London, Lucy has a comfortable home and a position as a printer’s apprentice. Two men are vying for her heart. And she’s allowed to exercise her mind when mysteries come across her path. In A Death Along the River Fleet, the fourth Lucy Campion mystery, a puzzle arrives in the form of a woman in white who has lost her memory.

The woman in white (the image had me wondering if Calkins was borrowing from Wilkie Collins, but it appears to be a coincidence) is a lady by her speech and hands, but she can’t remember anything before Lucy finding her along the backs of the River Fleet. She has cuts on her hands and is only wearing a shift. Lucy immediately takes her to Dr. Larimer for treatment (and laudanum). Larimer’s assistant believes he knows who the woman is; he thinks she’s the sister of an old school friend of his. Things get even stranger when Dr. Larimer sends a note to the woman’s presumed family. They reply that their daughter, Octavia Belasysse, died 10 months prior and do not appreciate being told that she may have popped up as an amnesiac in a bad part of London.

Once the plot starts rolling in A Death Along the River Fleet, they really get going. The woman slowly recovers some of her memories. A body is found near where Lucy found the amnesiac. Someone tries to kidnap the woman. Old grievances resurrect themselves. Along with her friend, Constable Duncan, Lucy slowly puts all the pieces together to solve the case.

The setting of this book—1667 London—makes it a little more exotic than most mysteries. Calkins makes some effort to set the stage for us, though she doesn’t go so far as Antonia Hodgson does to make the place and time come to full reeking life. That said, this is a solid mystery with a bit of a love story added. Lucy is the best part of this book. She’s fearless, but emotionally vulnerable. She’s very creative and not willing to settle. She’s entertaining enough that I’m tempted to go read the first three books in the series.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 12 April 2016.

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