Calkins, Susanna Cry of the Hangman

It’s December,1667 and London is still recovering both from the Plague and from the Great Fire that decimated the city. Lucy Campion visits retired judge Master Hargrave and discovers that he’s been attacked and robbed in his home. She once worked as a maid for the judge, but she learned how to read, and now works as a sort of printer’s apprentice. It turns out that a stash of the judge’s papers has been stolen. Later that week, Lucy is working, trying to interest buyers in the books she has helped print, when a rival storyteller poaches the crowd she has convened. It becomes clear that his tales are directly connected to the judge’s stolen papers. When she hears someone being murdered, and that too is connected to the judge’s papers, Lucy is determined to figure out who is trying to destroy his name. In this well-executed mystery, the historian Susanna Calkins also manages to convey 17th century British views about order and justice, crime and punishment, legal and illegal marriages, the possibility of moving out of the social order to which one is born, and enthusiasm for the accessibility of printed materials.

Susanna Calkins writes the award-winning Lucy Campion historical mysteries set in 17th century London and the Speakeasy Murders set in 1920s Chicago. Her books have been nominated for the Anthony, Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, the Lefty awards, and her third mystery received the Macavity.  Holding a doctorate in history, she is currently an educator at Northwestern University. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons. When she’s not writing or working–or maybe when she is–she enjoys interesting wines, beers and cocktails.