In 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 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.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The inspiration for my Victorian San Francisco Mystery sees (this is the first book in the series) came nearly 30 years ago as I worked on my dissertation on working women in the Far West. I wanted to write a series of books with a female protagonist who would go undercover in different jobs that Victorian women held to solve mysteries. Maids of Misfortune features my protagonist, Annie Fuller, going undercover as a domestic servant.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
One of the main jobs held by widowed women was boarding house keeping–so I gave my widow, Annie Fuller a boarding house to run. At the same time one of the most interesting occupations held in San Francisco in the 1870s and 1880s, was the occupation of clairvoyant (fortunetellers, trance mediums, etc), so I decided to have Annie supplement her income by being a pretend clairvoyant. Nate Dawson, a local lawyer (who she meets when involved in her first case) become the romantic interest.
M. Louisa Locke, a retired professor of U.S women’s history, features women’s occupations in her Victorian San Francisco Mystery series. In Maids of Misfortune, Annie Fuller, a widowed boarding house keeper and pretend clairvoyant, goes undercover as a domestic servant to solve a murder, in Uneasy Spirits, Annie and San Francisco lawyer Nate Dawson investigate fraudulent trance mediums, and in Bloody Lessons, they try to determine who is attacking San Francisco teachers. The fourth book in the series, Deadly Proof, due out in early 2015, is about women in the San Francisco printing industry. Dr. Locke is an active member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, a member of the Board of the Historical Authors Cooperative, and lives in San Diego with her husband and assorted animals.
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