Susanna Calkins

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Susanna Calkins

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in Philadelphia, The United States
November 03




I grew up reading Agatha Christie and Phyllis Whitney, and later took ...more

Member Since
January 2012


SUSANNA CALKINS, author of the award-winning Lucy Campion series, holds a PhD in history and teaches at the college level. Her historical mysteries have been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha awards, among many others, and The Masque of a Murderer received a Macavity. Originally from Philadelphia, Calkins now lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons.

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Susanna Calkins Kathleen, I apologize for the delay in responding to your question...I must have missed this initially. I knew that even though a lot of servants woul…moreKathleen, I apologize for the delay in responding to your question...I must have missed this initially. I knew that even though a lot of servants wouldn't have been able to get much education, there are real historical accounts of people who managed to teach themselves beyond reading the bible. And indeed, all over the world, there are people who manage to learn despite the odds being against them. I thought too, since she lived in the household of a magistrate feeling the pull of enlightenment thinking, he might have been encouraging of her resolution. thank you so much for your question and for reading my book.(less)
Susanna Calkins Hi Kathy, This is a great question! I always loved mysteries when I was a kid, and I must have always had a bit of propensity towards historical ficti…moreHi Kathy, This is a great question! I always loved mysteries when I was a kid, and I must have always had a bit of propensity towards historical fiction (and actually books from the past--I read a lot of Victorian literature when I was a kid). As I was earning my PhD in graduate school, I discovered Anne Perry. I also discovered 17th century murder ballads (yes, people used to sing about murder!) and I got the half-formed idea for a Murder at Rosamund's Gate. But it wasn't until I completed my PhD and had been teaching history for a few years that I finally took the time to write. A scene here, and a scene there, and a short ten years later, the book was done! :-) So on some level, always intertwined. Thanks for the great question and nice words about my book. (less)
Average rating: 3.72 · 4,419 ratings · 811 reviews · 18 distinct worksSimilar authors
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The Cry of the Hangman

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 2001 — 2 editions
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Castles, Customs, and Kings...

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More books by Susanna Calkins…

The Sign of the Gallows--Lucy at the Crossroads

It's been five years since A Death Along the River Fleet (2016) was released, but for Lucy Campion, only a few months have passed in The Sign of the Gallows. 

​Although the mystery in that last novel was of course concluded, there were a few things about Lucy's life that I deliberately left open. I tried to write the ending in such a way that readers could imagine her future as they chose.  Read more of this blog post »
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Published on February 01, 2021 16:17
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate From the Charred Remains The Masque of a Murderer A Death Along the River Fleet The Sign of the Gallows
(5 books)
3.67 avg rating — 3,439 ratings

Murder Knocks Twice The Fate of a Flapper
(2 books)
3.87 avg rating — 643 ratings

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Susanna Calkins wrote a new blog post

The Sign of the Gallows--Lucy at the Crossroads

It's been five years since A Death Along the River Fleet (2016) was released, but for Lucy Campion, only a few months have passed in The Sign of the G Read more of this blog post »
More of Susanna's books…
“Adam frowned. "What possessed you to come to Newgate? 'Tis no place for a woman, especially one as young as you, and unaccompanied to boot! You're lucky you got out alive."
Lucy scowled back, "I think it is my right to visit my own brother! Anyway, 'tis no matter to you!" Resentfully, she recalled herself, "Sir.”
Susanna Calkins, A Murder at Rosamund's Gate

“To live and to dream, to study and share her thoughts, to ponder the words of great men...To be a man, to be a scholar-she could only imagine the freedom and the headiness of reading and writing without being encumbered by scullery duties.”
Susanna Calkins, A Murder at Rosamund's Gate

“As the prisoners saw Lucy, they reached their hands out piteously to her, some begging her for food, others merely mouthing their pain, not even realizing that their lips no longer made sounds. When one of them grabbed her arm as she passed, Matthews raised his baron and swiftly brought it down on the prisoner's head. Lucy winced as the prisoner fell back to the floor, blood gushing from his brow.
Even as Lucy turned her head from the horror of human misery, another sight caused bile to rise in her throat. She vomited right there in the corridor. Two corpses, beheaded and dismembered, lay strewn about the floor of a small room that led from the corridor. The stench of human flesh and something else violated her nose. She dimly wondered what the sickly, spicy smell could be, and she began to sway.
Dimly, she recollected John telling her once how the hangman would boil the heads of men who had been drawn and quartered in a mixture of bay-salt and cumin seed, to keep them from putrefying before their relatives could claim their bodies for burial. Why had he told her that? she wondered dully. Why had she wanted to know?
Susanna Calkins, A Murder at Rosamund's Gate


Help us pick Nothing but Reading Challenges' April 2013 Anything Goes (except YA/Paranormal/Fantasy/SciFi) from among the books our members nominated. Also, please note that members can now use the Power Votes. For more information check out this post: Banking Voting Power Points: The Rules.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
  29 votes 26.1%

The Racketeer by John Grisham
The Racketeer by John Grisham
Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.
  15 votes 13.5%

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
  12 votes 10.8%

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Blends mythology, magic, archaeology and women. Traces four women, their path to the Masada massacre. In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived.

Four bold, resourceful, and sensuous women come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The four lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets — about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.
  10 votes 9.0%

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.
  9 votes 8.1%

Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner
Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner

This is my family: Vanished without a trace…

Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life that looks good in the pages of a glossy magazine. A beautiful fifteen-year old daughter, Ashlyn. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s elite Back Bay neighborhood. A great marriage, admired by friends and family. A perfect life.

This is what I know: Pain has a flavor…

When investigator Tessa Leoni arrives at the crime scene in the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and Taser confetti in the foyer. The family appears to have been abducted, with only a pile of their most personal possessions remaining behind. No witnesses, no ransom demands, no motive. Just an entire family, vanished without a trace.

This is what I fear: The worst is yet to come…

Tessa knows better than anyone that even the most perfect façades can hide the darkest secrets. Now she must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes’ innermost dealings, a complex tangle of friendships and betrayal, big business and small sacrifices. Who would want to kidnap such a perfect little family? And how far would such a person be willing to go?

This is the truth: Love, safety, family …it is all touch and go.
  8 votes 7.2%

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins

For Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate, life is an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores until a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and someone close to Lucy falls under suspicion. Lucy can’t believe it, but in a time where the accused are presumed guilty until proven innocent, lawyers aren’t permitted to defend their clients, and—if the plague doesn't kill the suspect first—public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never find out what really happened. Unless, that is, she can uncover the truth herself.

Determined to do just that, Lucy finds herself venturing out of her expected station and into raucous printers’ shops, secretive gypsy camps, the foul streets of London, and even the bowels of Newgate prison on a trail that might lead her straight into the arms of the killer.

In her debut novel Murder at Rosamund's Gate, Susanna Calkins seamlessly blends historical detail, romance, and mystery in a moving and highly entertaining tale.
  7 votes 6.3%

Crow's Row by Julie Hockley
Crow's Row (Crow's Row, #1) by Julie Hockley

For college student Emily Sheppard, the thought of spending a summer alone in New York is much more preferable than spending it in France with her parents. Just completing her freshman year at Callister University, Emily faces a quiet summer in the city slums, supporting herself by working at the campus library. During one of her jogs through the nearby cemetery while visiting her brother Bill's grave, Emily witnesses a brutal killing-and then she blacks out. When Emily regains consciousness, she realizes she's been kidnapped by a young crime boss and his gang. She is hurled into a secret underworld, wondering why she is still alive and for how long.

Held captive in rural Vermont, she tries to make sense of her situation and what it means. While uncovering secrets about her brother and his untimely death, Emily falls in love with her very rich and very dangerous captor, twenty-six year- old Cameron. She understands it's a forbidden love and one that won't allow her to return to her previous life. But love may not be enough to save Emily when no one even knows she is missing.
  7 votes 6.3%

Nowhere to Run by Mary Jane Clark
Nowhere to Run (KEY News #6) by Mary Jane Clark

Botulism, anthrax, smallpox, plague: as medical producer for television's highly-rated morning news program, Annabelle Murphy makes her living explaining horrific conditions to the nation. So when a KEY News colleague dies with symptoms terrifyingly similar to those of anthrax, she knows the panic spreading through the corridors of the Broadcast Center is justified.

As one death follows another, Annabelle's co-workers look to her for assurance, but she finds it hard to give comfort. To her, the circumstances surrounding the infections suggest diabolical murders.

And when the authorities lock down the Broadcast Center with the identity of the killer still unknown, neither the victims nor the murderer can escape...
  6 votes 5.4%

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

The time is 1981, and Sibyl Danforth has been a dedicated midwife in the rural community of Reddington, Vermont, for fifteen years. But one treacherous winter night, in a house isolated by icy roads and failed telephone lines, Sibyl takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency Caesarean section on its mother, who appears to have died in labor. But what if—as Sibyl's assistant later charges—the patient wasn't already dead, and it was Sibyl who inadvertently killed her?

As recounted by Sibyl's precocious fourteen-year-old daughter, Connie, the ensuing trial bears the earmarks of a witch hunt except for the fact that all its participants are acting from the highest motives—and the defendant increasingly appears to be guilty. As Sibyl Danforth faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.
  5 votes 4.5%

Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey
Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey

In her tour-de-force first novel, Juliann Garey takes us inside the restless mind, ravaged heart, and anguished soul of Greyson Todd, a successful Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and young daughter and for a decade travels the world giving free rein to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to keep hidden for almost 20 years. The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo twelve 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward. This is a literary page-turner of the first order, and a brilliant inside look at mental illness
  3 votes 2.7%

111 total votes

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