A companionable career/romance tale set in 1920s San Francisco, featuring a gal reporter's rise to the lofty heights of syndicated ""sob sister."" Hallie Duer leaves her Sacramento home (loving grandparents) and a local newspaper (where she fought for a by-line), arriving in San Francisco to join the S.F. Times--where she moves up from woman's page to sports under the wise and discerning eye of the chief editor. Then, thanks to the recurring alcoholic binges of writer Harry McCoy (""The Real""), Hallie moves from rewrite to features--even tailing interview-ee Jack Dempsey from outside the sparring ring to his trial for draft evasion. Meanwhile, rooming with photographer Faith Moore, Hallie soon has a circle of warmhearted and talented people: architect Julia Morgan (a real personage); wealthy-and-wise portraitist Sara Hunt; the Real McCoy and his boisterous family; and lawyer Jim Riordon, a defense lawyer who's working to keep truly innocent idealist Agnes Marchant out of jail for sedition--and who's married to a cold, miserably religious woman who daily scrubs the steps of her church. So Hallie befriends Jim's three beloved children--especially timid, adoring Kathleen; there are happy times with Agnes Marchant at her estate--with a passionate Hallie/Jim affair blooming. Also coming to Frisco is Hallie's brother Clive, snatched by fierce Grandmother Duer in Chicago after Hallie's parents died (one by drowning, the other by suicide). Also dropping in in times of trouble is tough, gallant prostitute Babe ConIon. And Hallie is doing a good deal of investigative reporting--including some sleuthing around the trial of comedian Roscoe ""Fatty"" Arbuckle for his alleged orgy murder. (Streshinsky's portraits of both Dempsey and Arbuckle as poor boys who've learned to tough over their vulnerabilities are charming and convincing.) Finally, however, after Babe's tragic death and the sad decline of brother Clive, Jim--who's holding back some gnawing secret--breaks off the affair: grieving Hallie takes off to D.C. and New York, interviewing celebs (like naughty Alice Longworth). . . before returning to Frisco. . . and love. Some sticky soap (Jim's secret can be seen a mile off)--but an ingratiatingly old-fashioned yarn nonetheless, especially in the sob-sister newshounding.