Multiple murders and a maltreated mistress are all in a day’s work for 19th-century San Francisco attorney Sarah Woolson.
Sarah is that rara avis in 1881, an unmarried professional woman. Her brother Samuel, a crime reporter who writes under an assumed name in order to conceal his job from their judge father, is covering a case that claims her attention. When several respected members of the community are murdered in the Woolsons’ Rincon Hill neighborhood, the police arrest some young Chinese men. Under the auspices of powerful Tong leader Li Ying, for whom she has previously worked, Sarah takes their case. At the same time, she seeks justice for lovely Brielle Bouchard, mistress of holier-than-thou publisher Gerald Knight, who casts her off when she bears his child. Bigotry against the Chinese population makes her criminal case difficult for Sarah. And she’s puzzled by her feelings for handsome shipping-company owner Pierce Godfrey, who’s asked her to marry him, and the fresh romantic overtures of her friend and colleague Robert Campbell. To top it all off, she gets involved in promoting a career for lovely and talented singer Melody Tremaine, whose parents are appalled at the thought. When her projects turn out to be intertwined in complex ways, she finds herself fighting for both justice and her reputation.
Sarah’s fourth (The Cliff House Strangler, 2007, etc.) neatly marries mystery, romance and historic San Francisco in an enjoyable tale of the stubbornly independent career woman.