Maids of Misfortune - a Victorian San Francisco Mystery by M. Louisa Locke
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 his death was 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.
Maids of Misfortune is the kind of book that keeps you reading until the wee hours even when you have to be up early for work. The characters are all aptly realized, the sort who you can’t help feeling something for. The storyline is interesting and without holes, and the mystery - while adequately foreshadowed - manages to keep you guessing up until the end. The best thing about this book, though, are the details: descriptions of San Francisco and the coast, daily life in the Voss household and at Annie’s boarding house, bits and pieces about the characters and locales. Everything is richly imagined and brought to life without the long, boring descriptive passages that many authors resort to.
Highly recommended to readers of cozy or historical mysteries or those who love well-written ‘pageturners’.
Rating: 4 stars