Published: August 2, 2016
Genre: Historical Mystery
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address: Gina Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com
In the weeks since solving her first murder nurse Celia Davies has tried her best to being about a semblance of normalcy to her life. She’s carried on with her nursing and mid-wife duties, resumed social visits with friends and has tried to forge a stronger relationship with her ward, Barbara. She’s tried to resolve her ambivalent feelings about her husband Patrick—is he dead or alive and which does she want him to be. And perhaps must difficult of all, she’s tried not to hope, to think about, to want, a relationship with one Detective Nicholas Greaves. Just when she thinks life is going to return to that normal place, street urchin, Owen, appears on her doorstep announcing he’s found a dead body. As it turns out, the body isn’t just any dead body…as the mystery unwinds it begins to appear one of Celia’s closest friends just may be involved.
I was drawn to Nancy Herriman’s Mystery of Old San Francisco with the first book of the series, NO COMFORT FOR THE LOST for two reasons—I do enjoy a good historical mystery and living in the San Francisco Bay Area, how could I not want to read the books? We have such a rich and colourful history that, if you do not know the depth of, or are willing to do the research for, you will miss significant parts. Herriman most certainly did her homework and has brought San Francisco’s vibrant past of the 1860’s to life. More than presenting the times, her words paint the picture of the time in such vivid detail you feel you are there.
Celia is such a great character. Herriman depicts her as a strong, intelligent woman who struggles to live within the constraints of her time while at the same time pursuing her passion—a career that matters so much to her. Adding to her struggle to balance the two is her ward, Barbara—a young woman who, in her own way, is incredibly wilful and self-centred. I didn’t care much for Barbara in book 1 and like her even less in book 2—but her self-absorbed personality adds dimension to the story. I can see her contrariness leading to some wonderful threads in future books.
Detective Greaves as well is well drawn. Like Celia he struggles with his desires and the constraints of the times. This is on top of him trying to do the right thing as a police officer amidst acknowledged corruption within the city and closer to home among some members of the police department. Rather than confusing the story, the dilemmas faced by the two main characters add depth both in the telling of the story and the emotions evoked.
Each book is a standalone and you do not have to have read book 1 to thoroughly enjoy book 2 – but I do recommend both because the stories are just that good.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.