It’s the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie’s husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt.
Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco’s most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl’s clients, Matthew Voss, has died. The police believe it is suicide brought upon by bankruptcy, but Annie believes Voss has been murdered and that his assets have been stolen.
Nate Dawson has a problem. As the Voss family lawyer, he would love to believe that Matthew Voss didn’t leave his grieving family destitute. But that would mean working with Annie Fuller, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior.
Sparks fly as Anne and Nate pursue the truth about the murder of Matthew Voss in this light-hearted historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco.
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“This historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco is a complete package of a modified locked room puzzle, more than one murder, daring undercover snooping, romantic tension and a few twists and turns for a powerhouse of a debut novel.
“When I finished this book I immediately missed Annie and the other characters, showing just how well they had been brought to life and, dare I say…memorable. The mystery was well plotted so I went down the wrong path along with the police at first. The setting of Victorian San Francisco and period details are rich and layered, easily woven in the overall story from the attitudes towards Chinese and class divisions to the strict propriety rules restricting women. The journey back in time seemed so complete I felt jarred if pulled back into the modern world when my reading was interrupted.
“The climax and revealing of the murderer was tense and an edge-of-your-seat ordeal where Annie is in very real danger. The ending was satisfying and I put the book down smiling at the wrap-up. I had just stumbled upon this delightful book as I cruised Amazon’s suggestions and I am so glad I found it. I heartily recommend this book for historical mystery or cozy fans. I think you will find it captivating.”
-Ariel Heart, Mysteries and My Musings
“Annie is a character with depth and personality. She’s also a woman faced with huge challenges and limited solutions for a “proper lady” in 1879. In real life, the Annies of the world are the survivors. Locke shows great finesse in character development and provides supporting characters that are diverse and entertaining.
“From beautiful Victorian houses to horses, carriages, manners, dress, lifestyles, fog, and gas-lamps, the setting is rich with authenticity. The author’s research is thorough, and her descriptions contain details that are interesting and satisfying to readers who love this era. Locke’s mysteries should develop a loyal audience quickly. This novel incubated for almost thirty years during the author’s teaching career. Let’s hope that it won’t be thirty years before the next one.”
-Penny Leisch, Story Circle Book Reviews