John Kurtze Review of A DEATH ALONG THE RIVER FLEET By Susanna Calkins


A DEATH ALONG THE RIVER FLEET places Lucy Campion in London around 1667 just after the Great London Fire. Calkins helps readers understand the challenges of people rebuilding their lives.  She introduces her protagonist Lucy Campion, a printer’s apprentice who is a strong fearless young woman looking to make her mark in the world.  Lucy’s backstory shows readers, Lucy’s inquisitive nature with instincts to solve things she doesn’t understand. Calkins places readers when Lucy finds a young woman wandering along the Holborn Bridge shoeless and wearing a white shift covered in blood. Lucy asks the young woman questions discovering she has no memory.  Lucy, knowing the woman needs help escorts her to Dr. Larimer for treatment.   The doctor determines the woman has no injuries causing her memory loss.  Calkins describes the developing bond between the woman and Lucy, Dr. Larimer asks Lucy to stay and be the woman’s companion.

Calkins storyline creates support characters, providing backstories and the roles they play when she introduces them to the storyline.   The author keeps adding clues for Lucy and her friend, Constable Duncan, in their pursuit of the woman’s identity. Lucy and Constable Duncan decide to take the woman to the area around Holborn Bridge. The woman remembers being attacked close to the bridge and leads Lucy to where she was attacked. They uncover a woman’s dress and a dead body.   Each time Lucy and the woman talk the young woman regains some memory.

Calkins increases the storyline’s momentum and intrigue, when new details of the woman’s mysterious past surface, including clues suggesting the woman is a daughter of a nobleman.  Lucy uncovers shocking clues bringing to the surface, as to the whereabouts the woman has been for the last ten months.  Calkins places her readers are siting Lucy’s shoulder, as the action of the storyline picks up momentum helping Lucy understand what the woman has endured.   The author wraps up A DEATH ALONG THE RIVER FLEET providing answers to Lucy’s investigation and unfolding of her unpredictable ending.

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