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Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery [Kindle Edition]

M. Louisa Locke
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

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 his death was 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, cozy historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco.

Maids of Misfortune is the first book in M. Louisa Locke’s historical mystery series, see also, Uneasy Spirits, and Bloody Lessons, as well as the two short stories based on the characters from the novels, Dandy Detects, and The Misses Moffet Mend a Marriage.

About the Author

M. Louisa Locke is a retired U.S and Women's history professor who has embarked on a new career with the publication of her best-selling Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, including Maids of Misfortune, Uneasy Spirits, Bloody Lessons, and her short stories.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3152 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002Z13UGS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,367 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars strong women April 3 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I like that there was no vulgar language or explicit sexual content. I also enjoyed that the main character was a strong woman who made her own decisions.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Maids of Misfortune May 13 2013
By Ann MC
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed the book. Easy read. Had to remember the role of woman in the 19th century. Got a bit of San Fran history
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  753 reviews
176 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Cozy Historical Mystery April 1 2010
By sevenmoonlight - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco is a complete package of a modified locked room puzzle, more than one murder, daring undercover snooping, romantic tension and a few twists and turns for a powerhouse of a debut novel.

When I finished this book I immediately missed Annie (a liberated woman ahead of her time!) and the other characters, showing just how well they had been brought to life and made, dare I say...memorable. The mystery was well plotted so I went down the wrong path along with the police at first. The setting of Victorian San Francisco and period details are rich and layered, easily woven in the overall story from the attitudes towards Chinese and class divisions to the strict propriety rules restricting women. The journey back in time seemed so complete I felt jarred if pulled back into the modern world when my reading was interrupted.

The climax and revealing of the murderer was tense and an edge-of-your-seat ordeal where Annie is in very real danger. The ending was satisfying and I put the book down smiling at the wrap-up.

Read the complete review at [...]
108 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! Feb. 10 2010
By Ann B. Elwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Annie, the main character of Maids of Misfortune, a feisty pseudo-psychic, is so real she seems to walk off the page. Her male cohort, the lawyer Nate, is the epitome of gentlemanly sex appeal. The mystery advances the sizzling but restrained attraction between Annie and Nate to an almost unbearable pitch as it leads them into the most interesting by-ways and corners of Victorian San Francisco. You'll want to yell at Annie like a kid in a theater, "Get out, now!" as she explores the library in the middle of the night-you just know someone's behind her. Is someone? Wait and see. You're there at the dance where the swells invade and Nate defends Annie against a masher. And the final scene, in which Annie and her accomplices . . .but I don't want to spoil it for you. The mystery is not so easy to solve, in spite of the clues, and yet its solution satisfies.
M. Louisa Locke has a Ph.D. in history, and her research is meticulous. However, she never lets it stand in the way of her story-telling, and, in fact, her deep knowledge of the past enriches the story and makes it more credible even as it overturns your pre-conceptions of the nineteenth century.
70 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Mystery set in Victorian San Francisco March 23 2011
By William Drescher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
M. Louisa Locke, a semi-retired History professor has written a delightful mystery set in Victorian San Francisco. In rating a book it is of first importance that I care what happens to the main characters and she has do a good job of drawing them in multiple dimensions and in a way that leads you to care about them. Secondly I look to see if I can figure out the plot before I get to the end. While she is very good at foreshadowing who the the "bad guy" is by the end of the book I was still unable to figure out several of the plot twists until she skillfully revealed them. Third I rate a book by how much I look forward to my next reading installment. This book I carried with me to that when I had a few uncommitted moments I could continue to read it. By the end I was willing to lose sleep to find out how the locked room (actually locked house) mystery was accomplished.

Very highly recommended and I look forward to her next book when it becomes available.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Victorian Mystery March 8 2011
By E. Bradley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It can be difficult for me to read books about San Francisco; it irritates me when they take too many liberties, and it annoys me when they get things wrong. That said, Victorian San Francisco was done well, and I felt like the setting was well handled; it was S.F., but it wasn't overdone, and it was never really about the city.

Rather, the book was about Mrs. Annie Fuller, the widow who has found a way to eke out a living by running a boarding house and offering financial advice as t...moreIt can be difficult for me to read books about San Francisco; it irritates me when they take too many liberties, and it annoys me when they get things wrong. That said, Victorian San Francisco was done well, and I felt like the setting was well handled; it was S.F., but it wasn't overdone, and it was never really about the city.

Rather, the book was about Mrs. Annie Fuller, the widow who has found a way to eke out a living by running a boarding house and offering financial advice as the clairvoyant Sybil. Things get complicated, however, when an old associate seeks to call in her dead husband's debts and a friend turns up dead.

I found myself satisfied by the story, the developments of characters and relationships felt natural and well paced. I didn't feel like anyone was terribly unbelievable, and I hadn't solved the mystery within the first couple chapters, all of which bodes well for the title. There are seemingly more titles forthcoming by this author, and I'm likely to seek them out, as this one was very good.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debts and Deceit March 22 2010
By Story Circle Book Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Annie Fuller, M. Louisa Locke's main character in Maids of Misfortune, is a spunky young San Francisco widow, who secretly supplements her income as a clairvoyant. As Madam Sybil, Annie, is one of San Francisco's most exclusive clairvoyants. When a client dies and Annie believes he's been murdered, keeping her role as Madam Sybil a secret becomes increasingly complicated, especially because Matthew Voss's family will be destitute and Annie will lose her home if she doesn't solve the murder. She can't just walk away.

At twenty-six, Annie is a widow without family to protect her. Since her husband squandered his money and her inheritance before he committed suicide five years earlier, the San Francisco home she inherited from her aunt and converted to a boarding house is the only thing that saved her from being forever dependent on her dead husband's family, who blamed her for his suicide. Annie inherited the house after she settled her late husband's debts. However, one of her husband's creditors believes he can intimidate her and rob her of a successful business, as well as her independence.

If all of this isn't strange enough, Annie does the unthinkable for a woman in 1879. She decides to go undercover, as a maid named Lizzie, and find out what happened. In the process, she finds herself falling in love with her dead client's attorney, Nate Dawson. As Annie and Nate chase criminals, Nate finds himself strongly attracted to Annie and thoroughly confused by her intelligence, independence, and sometimes-unladylike behavior. He soon learns that Annie is also versed in finance and the stock market, thanks to her father, and that she knows a great deal about her client's financial affairs.

Nate grows increasingly worried as it becomes obvious that Annie is right about the murder. His concern heightens when two fishermen discover the previous maid's body, and Lizzie refuses to leave her undercover job as the dead maid's replacement. Unfortunately, while Nate's tracking down the final piece of the puzzle, the real killer grabs Annie, in her Lizzie persona, and holds her hostage at knifepoint. The only people near enough to help Lizzie are her employer, who is the widow of Madam Sybil's client, Matthew Voss, and Matthew's elderly sister. Can three upper-class Victorian ladies outwit an armed assailant? They don't even do their own hair!

Annie is a character with depth and personality. She's also a woman faced with huge challenges and limited solutions for a "proper lady" in 1879. In real life, the Annies of the world are the survivors. Locke shows great finesse in character development and provides supporting characters that are diverse and entertaining.

From beautiful Victorian houses to horses, carriages, manners, dress, lifestyles, fog, and gas-lamps, the setting is rich with authenticity. The author's research is thorough, and her descriptions contain details that are interesting and satisfying to readers who love this era. Locke's mysteries should develop a loyal audience quickly. This novel incubated for almost thirty years during the author's teaching career. Let's hope that it won't be thirty years before the next one.

by Penny Leisch
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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