The sign of the gallows

Susanna Calkins

Book - 2021

"London, 1667. On her way to a new market to peddle her True Accounts and Strange News, printer's apprentice Lucy Campion quickly regrets her decision to take the northwestern road. Dark and desolate, the path leads her to the crossroads - and to the old hanging tree. She doesn't believe in ghosts, but she's not sure ghosts don't believe in her. But before she even reaches the crossroads, she's knocked off her feet by two men in a hurry. What were they running from? To her dismay, she soon discovers for herself: there, dangling from the tree, is the body of a man. Did he commit self-murder, or is there something darker afoot? The more Lucy learns, the more determined she is to uncover the truth. But this time, ...even the help and protection of magistrate's son Adam, and steadfast Constable Duncan, may not be enough to keep her safe from harm . . ."--Publisher.

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Detective and mystery fiction
Historical fiction
London : Severn House 2021.
Main Author
Susanna Calkins (author)
First world edition
Physical Description
234 pages ; 23 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Set in late-seventeenth-century London, Calkins' latest entry in her Lucy Campion series features the intrepid heroine once again chasing a murderer. Lucy is an apprentice to a printer, but, in addition to her printing skills, she's also inclined to try her hand at amateur sleuthing. When her path to market takes her to a crossroads near a notorious "hanging tree," she sees two men fleeing the scene and then finds another man hanging from the tree. She is unable to lift him down and so sets off to find Constable Duncan, on the way encountering Adam Hargrave, the magistrate's son. As she relates her story, Duncan and Hargrave are at first disbelieving, but, after finding the body, they agree to investigate, with Lucy's help, of course. Instead of a straightforward murder, the trio uncovers a baffling case that is awash with stolen identities, revenge, unrequited love, infidelity, secret codes, intrigue, danger, and violence. A crisply written, cleverly plotted, and nicely detailed historical mystery, with a lively heroine and a satisfying ending.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in 1667 London, Agatha finalist Calkins's diverting fifth Lucy Campion mystery (after 2016's A Death Along the River Fleet) finds Lucy, a servant turned printer's apprentice, horrified to discover a dead man hanging from a tree at a crossroads. Whether the man was murdered or committed suicide piques Lucy's curiosity, as does the strange behavior of two rough men she encounters near the tree. Constable Duncan and Adam Hargrave, a magistrate's son, join Lucy in a search for answers after she learns that a murder in a tavern has set in motion a relentless quest for justice. The romantic triangle that develops with Duncan and Hargrave leads to exchanges that are more awkward than pulse-racing. Far more enticing is the role of a series of messages requiring a cipher to comprehend. Calkins makes fine use of advances in mathematics and cryptography of this period, while also drawing in the chaos of the Great Fire and plague in London as agents of change in society. For anyone interested in 17th-century England, this mystery is a treat. Agent: David Hale Smith, InkWell Management. (Feb.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

In 1667, London may be recovering from the plague and the Great Fire, but murder never goes away. Lucy Campion, former chambermaid to Magistrate Hargrave and now a printer's apprentice, is selling her wares when she's knocked down by two men. Moving on, she comes upon a man hanging from a crossroads tree. Hoping to help identify him, she removes an unusual ring and chain from his neck, hiding them and herself when the pair return to rob the corpse. Clever, enterprising Lucy has come far from her humble roots to solve several murders, often with the help of Constable Duncan, who loves her, and Adam Hargrave, her former employer's son, whom she loves. The local doctor suspects murder, but the best clue may be a coded message found on the body. Lucy seeks help from the magistrate, who introduces her to professor Neville Wallace, an authority on ciphers. Wallace thinks the cipher may have been created by his former pupil Lucretia de Witte but claims not to have the key; his wife intimates that he had an adulterous relationship with Lucretia. A visit to Lucretia reveals a portrait of her murdered brother wearing the ring Lucy found. Lucy's convinced that the cipher holds the key to the mystery, which has morphed into a much wider investigation. Lavish period detail, romantic tension, and a complex puzzle make the heroine's fifth adventure one of her best. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.