Friday, September 28, 2012

Reviews by Tim: Back to school is in the air all around Part 2

Review writen by: Tim

As the first month of autumn moves along, things begin to slow down and the days are shortening. Bad thing you say? Well, true, summer is over and that reading time on the beach is done for the year, well unless you are like my daughter who lives in southern California. But consider this, you can get to bed earlier with a good book and actual reading time increases. At least that’s what happens at my house! I also tend to become more … I probably shouldn’t say academic should I? Okay, but I do tend to read more non-fiction this time of year and even the fiction will be historical in nature. Therefore, let me tell you briefly about Gaslight Fiction:
Sometimes referred to as Gaslight Romance, this is a sub-genre of historical fiction and is typically set in the Victorian period between 1837 and 1900. While similar to Steampunk, it is yet quite different in that it is usually meant to give the reader a dose of fear or heightened suspense. Of course its name comes from the fact that streetlights were powered by gas as were the more advanced homes. Otherwise, oil lanterns lit the doom that always seems to hide just around the corner.

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.

My Review

I rated this one 4.8 so it can be rounded up. It is very well written, has every twist and turn that something can have and yet the characters were believable, honest and mostly likeable.
I particularly like that there are so many historically interesting observations. It reminds me a bit of Caleb Carr's The Alienist which is one of my favorite books of all time. The only shortcoming is that it is the first in a series and there are no others ... yet (not counting the couple of short stories). So, Ms Locke, get crackin'!

My Rating:


And thank goodness, she did!

In Uneasy Spirits, the sequel to Maids of Misfortune, It’s the fall of 1879 and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, has a problem. Despite her growing financial success as the clairvoyant Madam Sibyl, Annie doesn’t believe in the astrology and palmistry her clients think are the basis for the domestic and business advice she dispenses, which is making her feel increasingly uncomfortable.

Kathleen Hennessey, Annie Fuller’s young Irish maid, has a plan. When her mistress is asked by one of the people in Annie’s boarding house to investigate and expose a fraudulent trance medium, Arabella Frampton, Kathleen is determined to assist in this investigation, just like the Pinkerton detectives she has read about in the dime novels.

Nate Dawson, the up-and-coming San Francisco lawyer, has a dilemma. He wants to marry the unconventional Annie Fuller, but he doesn’t feel he can reveal his true feelings until he has figured out a way to make enough money to support her.

In Uneasy Spirits, this light, romantic follow-up to Locke’s debut historical mystery, Maids of Misfortune, Annie Fuller, with the help of Nate Dawson and Kathleen Hennessey, delves into the intriguing world of 19th century spiritualism, encountering true believers and naïve dupes, clever frauds and unexplained supernatural phenomena, soon finding there are as many secrets as there are spirits swirling around the Frampton séance table. These secrets will threaten the foundation of her career as Madam Sibyl, the future of her relationship with Nate Dawson, and, in time, they will threaten her very life itself.

My Review

This title is the second by this author with the same characters set in the late nineteenth century in San Francisco. It is an opportunity for the reader to actually witness what life could have been like then through the eyes, feelings and conversations of the characters. Plus there is some suspense, intrigue and romance that make it a well-rounded story. I'd recommend these two books to anyone who just enjoys being transported to a different time, a different place and being entertained during the flight. I sure hope Ms. Locke doesn't stop here. There must be another ... oh I don't know, dozen tales that would work with the same crew.

My Rating:


small blueThank you for visiting and reading my review, I hope to see you again next month for my next review by Tim!small blue

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