Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Masque of a Murderer by Susanna Calkins

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley/Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Read: March 10, 2015

It’s 1666 and the Great Fire has just decimated an already plague-ridden London. Lady’s maid Lucy Campion, along with pretty much everyone else left standing, is doing her part to help the city clean up and recover. But their efforts come to a standstill when a couple of local boys stumble across a dead body that should have been burned up in the fire but miraculously remained intact—the body of a man who died not from the plague or the fire, but from the knife plunged into his chest. Searching for a purpose now that there’s no lady in the magistrate’s household for her to wait on, Lucy has apprenticed herself to a printmaker. But she can't help but use her free time to help the local constable, and she quickly finds herself embroiled in the murder investigation. It will take all of her wits and charm, not to mention a strong stomach and a will of steel, if Lucy hopes to make it through alive herself.

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I find it amusing that I'm reviewing Susanna Calkins' The Masque and the Murderer on the tails of Mist of Midnight as I think the two make very good companion pieces. There are a lot of similarities between the books and I thought that brought a fun dynamic to my experience of both, but compare contrast is a topic for another day. 

Calkins' uses the diversity of seventeenth century social stratification to her advantage which is something I found very appealing. From the stigma attached to those who'd escaped service, to the subjection of women, Calkins paints an illuminating picture of the London and her inhabitants over the course of her narrative. I was equally impressed with her treatment of the Quakers and how she wove the religious sect and their customs into the fabric of a murder investigation.

I ultimately liked how the story played out, but admit the pacing was a little slow for my tastes. Calkins also spends a significant amount of time on Lucy's personal life and while I enjoyed the perspective that brought her character, I often felt the effort diverted attention from the mystery at the heart of the story.

The Masque and the Murderer was not my first Lucy Campion mystery, I read A Murder at Rosamund's Gate in Jan 2013, but I was very aware I'd skipped From the Charred Remains. These books are not written as standalones, but that said, they are intricate and puzzling whodunits that have proved quite enjoyable to this particular reader. 

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“So the truth finally comes forth,” the searcher said, a deep chill to her voice. She seemed unmoved by the circumstances that brought about her son’s murder. “I always knew you had killed my dear Edgar."
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Check Out All the Stops on Susanna Calkins' The Masque of a Murderer Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 16
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, March 17
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Bibliophilia, Please
Wednesday, March 18
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, March 20
Spotlight at Historical Readings & Reviews
Monday, March 23
Review & Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, March 25
Review & Interview at The Emerald City Book Review
Tuesday, March 31
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Wednesday, April 1
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Thursday, April 2
Review at Just One More Chapter
Monday, April 6
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, April 7
Spotlight at The Genre Queen
Thursday, April 9
Review at The Lit Bitch
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation
Friday, April 10
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, April 13
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, April 14
Review at Book Babe
Thursday, April 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Friday, April 17
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

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