Nancy Herriman's first Mystery of Old San Francisco, No Comfort for the Lost, is a riveting historical mystery set in 1867, a compelling story that brings the city and the times to life. This issue-oriented story is intense and dramatic with two strong lead characters. Celia Davies, a nurse, teams up with a Civil War veteran turned police officer, Detective Nicholas Greaves, to investigate a murder. And, these two are the only ones who really care about justice for the victim.
Celia lied about her age to become a nurse in the Crimea, and then the British-born woman married and followed her Irish husband to the United States, where she served as a battlefield nurse in the Civil War. When a small inheritance left her with a little money and the guardianship of her half-Chinese cousin, she opened a clinic in San Francisco for women who couldn't afford a doctor. One of those was a Chinese prostitute, Li Sha, who was saving money to leave the brothel. But, before she could buy her freedom, she was murdered. At a time when anti-Chinese sentiment ran high, Celia thought she was the only one who wanted to find the killer. She didn't count on a police officer who also wanted justice.
Detective Nicholas Greaves followed in his beloved uncle's footsteps as a police officer. He valued justice, and believed "Those who needed justice the most were the ones least likely to get it." And, who in San Francisco cared about the death of one more Chinese prostitute when white men were out of work, the Anti-Coolie Association had formed, and there was talk about burning out the Chinese? But, Nick was willing to ask questions in the highest places, and track men down in the wharves, saloons, and dens of the Barbary Coast. While he asked questions there, Celia also asked questions, although she soon found threatening notes on her doorstep.
No Comfort for the Lost is a compelling story of classes, racism, and bigotry. It's also an outstanding introduction to a new historical mystery series with a pair of fascinating sleuths. San Francisco is the 1860s is an attractive setting for a crime series. It's a location filled with atmosphere and dramatic characters. And, Nancy Herriman's mystery is the perfect introduction to the city, its history, and its drama.
Nancy Herriman's website is www.nancyherriman.com
No Comfort for the Lost by Nancy Herriman. Obsidian. 2015. ISBN 9780451474896 (paperback), 374p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy, hoping I would review it.