The Victorian San Francisco Mysteries
The Victorian San Francisco Mystery series is based on the research M. Louisa Locke did for her doctorate in history at University of California, San Diego about women who worked in the far west at the end of the 19th century. The series features Annie Fuller, a boardinghouse owner and pretend clairvoyant, and Nate Dawson, a San Francisco lawyer, who together investigate murders and other crimes. The novels are in chronological order. Individual Short stories based on characters from the series can be found here.
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Maids of Misfortune (Book One)
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.
Uneasy Spirits (Book Two)
In Uneasy Spirits, the sequel to Maids of Misfortune, It’s the fall of 1879 and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, has a problem. Despite her growing financial success as the clairvoyant Madam Sibyl, Annie doesn’t believe in the astrology and palmistry her clients think are the basis for the domestic and business advice she dispenses, which is making her feel increasingly uncomfortable.
Kathleen Hennessey, Annie Fuller’s young Irish maid, has a plan. When her mistress is asked by one of the people in Annie’s boarding house to investigate and expose a fraudulent trance medium, Arabella Frampton, Kathleen is determined to assist in this investigation, just like the Pinkerton detectives she has read about in the dime novels.
Nate Dawson, the up-and-coming San Francisco lawyer, has a dilemma. He wants to marry the unconventional Annie Fuller, but he doesn’t feel he can reveal his true feelings until he has figured out a way to make enough money to support her.
In Uneasy Spirits, this light, romantic follow-up to Locke’s debut historical mystery, Maids of Misfortune, Annie Fuller, with the help of Nate Dawson and Kathleen Hennessey, delves into the intriguing world of 19th century spiritualism, encountering true believers and naïve dupes, clever frauds and unexplained supernatural phenomena, soon finding there are as many secrets as there are spirits swirling around the Frampton séance table. These secrets will threaten the foundation of her career as Madam Sibyl, the future of her relationship with Nate Dawson, and, in time, they will threaten her very life itself.
Bloody Lessons (Book Three)
Annie Fuller, the reluctant clairvoyant, has been called into investigate by Nate Dawson, her lawyer beau, and the case becomes personal when they discover that Laura, Nate’s sister, may be one of the teachers targeted for attack.
In this installment in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, readers will find the same blend of a cozy mystery with romantic suspense, played out against the historical backdrop of late 19th century San Francisco, that they found in Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits.
If you are new to this series, you will still enjoy spending time with the lively residents of Annie Fuller’s boarding house and visiting San Francisco when Golden Gate Park was filled with horse-drawn carriages, saloon-keepers controlled politics, and kisses were stolen under gaslight.
Deadly Proof (Book Four)
It’s the summer of 1880, and once again the lovely and inquisitive businesswoman, Annie Fuller, is helping San Francisco lawyer and beau, Nate Dawson, with a troublesome case. Nate’s client, a female typesetter accused of murdering her boss, refuses to help in her own defense. Complicating matters, Nate’s sister Laura insists on getting involved in the potentially dangerous investigation, while Laura’s friend Seth Timmons, troubled Civil War veteran, finds himself a witness for the prosecution. Will Nate be able to win his first big case? Will Laura and Seth find some way of becoming friends? And finally, will Annie and Nate’s upcoming nuptials be derailed by their attempts to track down a killer?
Old friends and new readers alike will enjoy Deadly Proof, this fourth installment of the cozy Victorian San Francisco Mystery series that blends light romance, suspense, and a glimpse into the lives of late 19th century women who worked.
Violet Vanquishes a Villain: A Victorian San Francisco Novella
In this novella, Annie and Nate Dawson, the amateur sleuths from M. Louisa Locke’s cozy Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, are visiting Nate’s family at their ranch near San Jose, California. What was supposed to be a pleasant romantic interlude for the two of them, plus a chance for Annie to get to know Nate’s family better, turns serious when a crime is uncovered. And, as in Locke’s short stories from this series, Annie gets help in resolving the crisis from a very unexpected quarter. Violet Vanquishes a Villain comes right after Deadly Proof, the fourth book in the series, although it can certainly be read as a stand-alone story.
Pilfered Promises (Book Five)
It is the winter of 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together.
For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising. Not if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar.
However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems.
Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house.
Kathleen Catches a Killer: A Victorian San Francisco Novella
It’s the very end of December, 1880, and the servant Kathleen Hennessey expects to spend a quiet week taking care of the O’Farrell Street boarding house while her employers, Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family. However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated puzzle that she is determined to solve.
While featuring minor characters from Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Kathleen Catches a Killer contains all the light romance, humor, and suspense of the longer works. Chronologically, this novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises, but it can be read as a stand-alone and an excellent introduction to this mystery series about the gas-lit world of the late 19th century.
Dandy Delivers: A Victorian San Francisco Novella
It’s January, 1881, and while the adults in Annie and Nate Dawson’s San Francisco O’Farrell Street boardinghouse are busy with their own affairs, two boys and a dog find their own adventure. Ian Hennessey, a poor boy from South of Market, who is trying to shoulder a man’s responsibilities, gets in trouble, and his best friend, Jamie Hewitt, does what he can to help. But it is Jamie’s young Boston Terrier, Dandy, who saves the day.
This short novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises and Kathleen Catches a Killer but can act as an introduction to the late 19thcentury gas-lit world of Locke’s historical mystery series.
Scholarly Pursuits (Book Six)
“Something is rotten in the state of Berkeley”
–1881 Blue and Gold Yearbook, University of California: Berkeley
In Scholarly Pursuits, the sixth full-length novel in the USA Today best-selling Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Locke explores life on the University of California: Berkeley campus in 1881, where Laura and her friends face the remarkably modern problems of fraternity hazings, fraught romantic relationships, and fractious faculty politics.
While Annie and Nate Dawson and friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boardinghouse await a blessed event, Laura Dawson finds herself investigating why a young Berkeley student dropped out of school in the fall of 1880.
No one, including her friend Seth Timmons, thinks this is a good idea, since she is juggling a full course load with a part-time job, but she can’t let the question of what happened to her friend go unanswered. Not when it means that other young women might be in danger.
This cozy historical mystery of romantic suspense is set in the period immediately after the fifth book in the series, Pilfered Promises, and two novellas, Kathleen Catches a Killer and Dandy Delivers. However, it can be read as a stand-alone.
Victorian San Francisco Stories
This book is a collection of four short stories from the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series. Madam Sibyl’s First Client was written specifically for this collection and it finds Annie Fuller, the young widowed boarding house keeper, just starting her career as a pretend clairvoyant. In Dandy Detects, the Boston terrier that lives in Annie Fuller’s boarding house helps uncover a crime, and in The Misses Moffet Mend a Marriage, two elderly boarders use their dressmaking skills to avert a domestic tragedy. Finally, in Mr. Wong Rights a Wrong, a Chinese manservant from the first mystery in the series, Maids of Misfortune, makes another appearance and helps Annie Fuller solve a serious problem. As a bonus, there is an essay, Historical Tidbits, which provides insight into the historical research that went into these stories.
This collection can be read as an introduction or a companion to the first three books in the series, Maids of Misfortune, Uneasy Spirits, and Bloody Lessons, permitting some of the most beloved minor characters to have some fun by taking center stage.
Victorian San Francisco Mysteries–Books 1-4
USA Today Bestselling Book
The first four books in the romantic and suspenseful Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, Maids of Misfortune, Uneasy Spirits, Bloody Lessons, and Deadly Proof are bundled together at a substantial discount. This Boxed Set of cozy historical mysteries is the perfect gift for readers of any age and is a welcome companion to Pilfered Promises, the fifth book in the series.
Maids of Misfortune (over 1400 reviews, 4.2 stars) introduces Annie Fuller, a young widow who runs the O’Farrell Street boarding house and supplements her income by giving financial and domestic advice as Madam Sibyl. When one of Madam Sibyl’s clients dies in mysterious circumstances, Annie goes undercover as domestic servant to find out the truth about his death. Against his better judgment, Nate Dawson, the Voss family lawyer finds himself drawn into helping in her investigations, alternatively fascinated and frustrated by Annie’s independent nature.
Uneasy Spirits (over 600 reviews, 4.3 stars) finds Annie Fuller and Nate Dawson, assisted by the boarding house maid, Kathleen, delving into the world of 19th century Spiritualism in order to expose a fraudulent trance medium. She will soon find there are as many secrets as there are spirits swirling around the séance table. Some of those secrets will threaten the foundation of her career as Madam Sibyl and the future of her relationship with Nate Dawson, and, in time, they will threaten her very life itself.
In Bloody Lessons (over 350 reviews, 4.4 stars), Annie Fuller has been called in by her beau, Nate Dawson to find out who has been sending poison pen letters about the teachers of San Francisco. The case becomes personal when they discover that Nate’s sister, Laura, may be one of the teachers under attack.
In Deadly Proof (over 350 reviews, 4.3 stars) Annie helps her fiancé, Nate Dawson, with a troubling case—defending a female typesetter who is accused of killing her employer. Complicating matters, Nate’s sister decides to take the investigation into her own hands.
Review of Maids of Misfortune: “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. -Penny Leisch, Story Circle Book Reviews
Review of Uneasy Spirits: “This cozy has great characters, interesting plot, period detail, and suspense sprinkled with romance for a great mystery. If you like the Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson, you will most likely enjoy this series.”–Review by Ariel Heart on Mysteries and My Musings
Review of Bloody Lessons: “These make great bed-time reading. They won’t give you nightmares, but you will quickly feel a part of Nate and Annie’s world. And as the novel gathers pace towards the end, this becomes a genuine page turner – not least because the writer has allowed us to become so fond of her well drawn cast of characters.”––Catherine Czerkawska, The Curiosity Cabinet
Victorian San Francisco Novellas
This collection brings together three novellas by USA Today bestselling author, M. Louisa Locke: Violet Vanquishes a Villain, Kathleen Catches a Killer, and Dandy Delivers. These shorter works contain the light romance, humor, and suspense of the novels in her cozy Victorian San Francisco mystery series and are an excellent introduction to the gas-lit world of late 19th-century San Francisco.
Violet Vanquishes a Villain: In this novella set in August of 1880, Annie and Nate Dawson’s trip down the San Francisco peninsula to San Jose was supposed to be a pleasant romantic interlude and a chance for Annie to get to know Nate’s family better. When the visit takes a serious turn, Annie races to expose a criminal who could ruin a young man’s life, getting help from an unexpected quarter. The events in Violet Vanquishes a Villain come right after Deadly Proof, the fourth book in Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series.
Kathleen Catches a Killer: As 1880 comes to a close, the O’Farrell Street boardinghouse servant, Kathleen Hennessey, expects to spend a quiet week while her employers, amateur sleuths Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family. However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated and dangerous puzzle that she is determined to solve. The events in Kathleen Catches a Killer come right between those in Pilfered Promises and the third novella in this collection, Dandy Delivers.
Dandy Delivers: It’s January, 1881, and while the grown-ups in Annie and Nate Dawson’s San Francisco O’Farrell Street boardinghouse are busy with their own affairs, two boys and a dog find their own adventure. Ian Hennessey, a poor boy from South of Market, who is trying to shoulder a man’s responsibilities, gets in trouble, and his best friend, Jamie Hewitt, does what he can to help. But it is Jamie’s young Boston Terrier, Dandy, who saves the day.