Victorian San Francisco and 19th Century Police Techniques

Here is an excerpt of a piece I wrote for the Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative this week. To read the whole piece CLICK HERE.

The five novels in my Victorian San Francisco mystery series primarily feature Annie Fuller, a young woman who runs a boarding house, and Nate Dawson, a San Francisco lawyer who helps her solve crimes. However, I frequently publish short stories and novellas to let the minor characters in my novels become major actors for awhile. (Yes, characters do seem to have an opinion about this, and no, authors aren’t crazy to see their characters as having minds of their own.)

For example, my short story, Dandy Detects, didn’t just let the young Boston Terrier pup from my first book, Maids of Misfortune, strut his stuff, but this story began to flesh out the past histories of two other characters, the school teacher Barbara Hewitt and her son, histories that in time would become crucial parts of the plot in my third novel, Bloody Lessons.

Perhaps even more importantly, these shorter works also let me go into more detail about historical tidbits about San Francisco, something that can get in the way of good pacing in the longer, more conventional mystery novels. Much as my two dressmakers, Miss Minnie and Miss Millie, lend notes of humor to all my books, it was only when I gave them their own short story, The Misses Moffet Mend a Marriage, that I had the time to go into specifics about how skilled dressmakers could make their living in nineteenth century San Francisco. And, in Mr. Wong Rights a Wrong, I was able to reintroduce a character people loved from Maids of Misfortuneand write a story that provided historical detail on Chinese immigration, anti-Chinese sentiment, and the charities that tried to help Chinese women in San Francisco.

Kathleen_killer_1600x2400In my most recent novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer, Annie’s boarding house maid, Kathleen Hennessey, has the opportunity to solve her own mystery, but I was also able to use this story to describe some of the methods used by the San Francisco police force because Kathleen’s beau, Patrick McGee, is a patrolman who is working hard to become one of the city’s plain-clothes detectives.

The rest of this blog piece can be found HERE.

Kathleen Catches a Killer is now available as an audiobook at Amazon, Audible, iTunes.

I recently did an interview on the blog, mapyourmystery.com. This blog is a great place to find new mysteries, with a particular emphasis on mystery settings.

M. Louisa Locke, March 21, 2018

One thought on “Victorian San Francisco and 19th Century Police Techniques

  1. Really enjoy the details of life you provide in your short stories. Wish history was taught this way when I was young! Had a history teacher in college who made history come to life by using a similar technique – such a nice change from memorizing dates and studying wars!

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