M. Louisa Locke Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery (2009)
M. Louisa Locke Uneasy Spirits: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery (2011)
Annie shuddered. Every time Nate said those words, she felt a blow to the framework of her existence. How do you become a person whom someone wants to kill? How do you go about your day, knowing some unknown person is out there plotting your death?
I'm a bit mixed up about things which are 'free'. Why would someone sell their book for free? Books are hard work. Books in Australia are also heinously expensive which I think adds to my uneasy feelings: are free books rubbish books?
The Amazon 'Top Free' list comes through my feed reader every day (RSS link), but generally the content doesn't hold much interest for me. Occasionally there's a familiar name, but generally there is a lot of bodice-ripping and cooking recipes to wade through (maybe if the genres were combined I might stop a little longer?!). Only very, very occasionally is there something that makes me click onwards.
The blurb for M. Louisa Locke's first historical detective novel was appealing: in late 1870s' San Francisco an independent woman, a young widow, who runs a boarding house and has a financially successful sideline pretending to be a fortune-teller, is drawn into the suspicious death of a client. The author was a professor of history before retiring to write fiction. This pushed some buttons for me.
And I was very, very pleasantly surprised: Maids of Misfortune was a very enjoyable read - plenty of nice historical detail, a really likeable heroine, a typically gorgeous male helper figure to add some will-she?-won't-she? to the action.
I would recommend this if you like a light historical read with a dash of romance and a nice puzzle to get the grey cells going. I would have bought the second in the series (Uneasy Spirits) but the next day it too popped up in the free list.
Mrs. Henderson was a widow, here to communicate with her departed husband, a pharmacist. Miss Reynolds was her sister. She had evidently developed a lovely relationship with a minor Greek philosopher who spoke to her through Arabella.
In this second book I thought the puzzle was a good one (about dodgy séances) though the dialogue sometimes seemed to flow less easily than the first book. I thought there were moments of cliché in both books (the hero's warm skin and beating heart through his fine linen; the heroine smelling of sunshine; some 'delicate' nose-blowing), but, hey, it's a clichéd genre and that's probably what I felt like when I devoured these two neat bits of historical crime fiction. There's a third on the way too.
Oh, and my 'thing' about free stuff? The author has an interesting piece on her blog about why she added the books to the 'free' program and what a success if has been. And, yes, this has made me have a good think about my snobby perspective on the value of free stuff.
Rating: 3/5 for both.