A Murder at Rosamund's Gate - By Susanna Calkins


Before I was a writer, I was a reader. To this end, I must thank my bibliophilic parents, James and Diane, for literally lining the walls of our house with books, and instilling in me a deep love of reading. I must also thank my siblings—Vince, Becky, and Monica Calkins—for sharing (or letting me steal) so many of their books growing up. For my love of writing, I owe great thanks to the dedicated teachers at J. R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia, especially Mitzi Brown. For my curiosity about English history, I thank my first history professor, George Stow, at La Salle University.

A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate began with an image that came to me after Professor Melinda Zook first introduced me to seventeenth-century murder ballads and broadsides at Purdue University. For about ten years, I worked on the manuscript in bits and pieces, until I finally had a draft to share. With the encouragement of my husband, I offered it to my first readers—Franny Billingsly, Maggie Dalrymple, Denise Drane, Margaret Light, Steve Stofferahn, and Shyanmei Wang—who patiently read through odd passages and dangling clues, offered gentle feedback, raised hard questions, and most importantly, gave me the confidence to pursue my dream as a writer. To them I owe my deepest appreciation. I also wish to thank the many friends and family who celebrated my writing and helped me feel like an “author,” especially Lisa and Nikhel Bagadia, Jeremy Beck and Chris Ehrick, Jolly and Chris Corley, Noyna Debburman, Marilyn Kelley, Robin Kelley, and Angie Betz, Andrea and Rob Lemke, Olivia Lemke, Greg Light, Sonal and Vas Maniatis, Elizabeth Marquardt, Jennie McNaughton, Marina Micari, Duane Swierczynski, and Steve Wagner. I am also grateful to my late mother-in-law, Terry Kelley, who always had faith in me.

The journey from manuscript to book continued with David Hale Smith, the best literary agent in the world and all-around good guy. I appreciate his belief in my book and in me—and for connecting me to Kelley Ragland. I am extremely grateful to Kelley for understanding my characters, and for her reflective and compassionate approach to editing my story. I also wish to thank all the wonderful people at Minotaur, especially Elizabeth Lacks and India Cooper, who made my dream tangible. A writer could not ask for a better team, and to everyone who worked on my book, I offer my deepest gratitude.

I could not have written this book without the love and understanding of my family. My children, Alex and Quentin Kelley, never seemed to mind little Rosamund dragging me away to coffee shops or tagging along on vacations, and for that I am very grateful.

Most importantly, I thank my husband, Matt Kelley, for giving me the confidence, space, and time to put the images in my mind to real words on paper. He took on many roles as I completed this book, most notably Alpha Reader (his favorite title), Senior Vice President for Continuity Management (double-checked all my dates, events, character descriptions, street names, etc. to make sure I hadn’t goofed), Acting Head of Public Relations (bragged about me to all his friends), and Executive Administrative Assistant (made sure I always had time to write). To my partner and best friend, I dedicate A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate.


March 1665


A great pounding at the door startled the chambermaid bending to light the morning hearth. Jerking upright, Lucy Campion swore softly as a bit of hot beeswax stung her wrist. Slapping the taper on the mantel, she sneaked a glance over her shoulder. She could hear Bessie and Cook rattling pots in the kitchen, but the rest of the magistrate’s household was still. Her muttered oath had not carried. Though theirs was not a stringent Puritan family, the magistrate frowned on ill language, and Lucy always took care not to annoy him.

Lucy was feeling out of sorts, though, having been awakened an hour too early—not to the usual sound of roosters crowing but instead to their frantic squealing. Local boys had been casting stones at the witless birds, all mercilessly shackled to wooden stakes on the street outside her window. Although the Church officially did not condone such activities, the community accepted that boys would have their fun. Fortunately only the servants, light sleepers that they all were, had been awakened by the disturbance. The rest of the household, the magistrate’s family, had slept blissfully on.

Now, tugging her skirts into place, Lucy moved across the long wooden floor into the great hall. Who could