“This is Ms. Locke’s delightful sequel to Maids of Misfortune, and the second in the Annie Fuller historical mystery series. Set in the late 1800’s in one of my favorite cities, San Francisco, California, I felt like I was there, walking these streets as they were a hundred years ago.
“By day, Annie Fuller makes her living as the proprietor of a respectable and well established boarding house, but at night, she becomes Madame Sybil, fortune teller. Annie may have been brought up studying finance at her father’s knee, but this is the only way any grown man in the 1800’s will accept the financial advice from a twenty-six year old woman, much less pay for the privilege. And, Annie, has finally found someone who isn’t like her dead husband in the attractive young lawyer, Nate Dawson whose awkwardness around Annie, is both touching and charming.
“The story opens with the scene in which we witness the murder of an elderly woman, and in a totally separate venue, we’re introduced to a very strange young girl. The two incidents, we later learn, are intricately woven together and the result will culminate in a surprise ending.
“Annie gets involved when one of her boarders, Miss Pinehurst, fearing for her sister’s sanity, begs Annie to help her prove that the clairvoyants her sister insists upon paying, are fake. Stepping into the world of Simon and Arabella Frampton, Annie is sure that Miss Pinehurst is right and determines to expose them… until she meets with Evie May, the odd child we saw in the beginning.
“Evie May is a chameleon, a child whose different personas are used by the unscrupulous Simon and Arabella Frampton as a way of making lots of money.
“But, there’s a more sinister plot underway here between the Framptons and a shadowy figure who is actually directing the whole show from the sidelines.
“Nate and Annie become pawns of this person’s nefarious plans, and though we don’t find out who this person is until almost the end, there’s every reason to believe that one or both of these young people may become the next victim.
“This is a skillfully crafted mystery with wonderful recurring characters who are the kind of people that live with the reader long after the book is finished. And of course, the bad and really bad characters get what’s coming to them… perfect!
“Last, but not least, when I read this book I was reminded of one of my favorite historical mystery authors, Anne Perry. I’ve read almost all of her books, and I can honestly say that Ms. Locke’s work is right up there with Anne Perry’s.”
—Reviewed by RP Dahlke, Guest Reviwer, October, 2011. Buried Under Books
“Annie Fuller’s father taught her everything he knew about finance and investing, now that Annie is on her own nobody wants financial advice from a woman, so she pretends to be Madam Sibyl and has a thriving side business. This is why one of her boarders comes to her for help to prove a seance group that has gotten control of her sister is fraudulent. Annie begins to attend the seances and clearly sees many tricks but when a young girl is used on some clients, Annie is stumped as to how this girl does what she does.
“The more Annie attends, the more she suspects something truly sinister is going on. Annie must be onto something because she starts receiving threats. The more Annie figures out the more she is in danger and the tension mounts. The young lawyer Nate Dawson who Annie met in the previous book is back and their relationship is going through some rocky spots.
“Annie continues to delight as a character. In this novel Annie faces some of her personal past ghosts and shows her inner strength. Nate is struggling to find his place so he can make enough money to start a family. There are missteps in the relationship and we see him grow in how he comes to understand such a liberated woman.
“Victorian San Francisco is effortlessly portrayed transporting the reader. Each chapter begins with an advertisement from the papers for seances and psychics adding to the period feel. The politics surrounding the city is woven in as well. This series has brought out the character of the city in this era and it is infectious.
“The plot seemed to be going in one direction yet takes off in another for a twist. I had not anticipated the direction the plot took and was pleasantly surprised. The young girl used by the con artists is quite a mystery in herself and I wanted to find out what her story was. The resolution was suspenseful and harrowing. 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
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