Today we go to San Francisco to delve into the thriving Spiritualism community which often contained con artists and rigged shows. I reviewed the first in this series Maids of Misfortune (click here) and interviewed the author (click here). Take a break from the shopping madness and travel to Victorian San Francisco with me.
Copyright: Oct 2011 (CreateSpace) 388 pgs
Series: 2nd in Victorian San Francisco Mysteries
Sensuality: Victorian mild
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy
Main Character: Annie Fuller, runs a boarding house and moonlights as Madam Sibyl
Setting: 1879 San Francisco
Obtained Through: author for an honest review
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.