Tag Archives: Nancy Herriman

Four FAVORITE BOOK SETTINGS on Friday

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Four FAVORITE BOOK SETTINGS on Friday
I have to admit that I am Buzz Feed Quiz junkie.  You know, the ones that have you answer questions to determine which Disney Princess you are, which Hogwarts House you belong in, and which decade should you have lived in.  In order, Belle (no surprise there), Gryffindor (I wish I was that brave), and the 1950’s (pencil skirts and cocktail hour all the way!).  I recently saw one that “determined” your book interests based on travel preferences, and it got me thinking about settings.  I went through my list of all my favorite mystery writers . . . of course I have a list . . . and not too surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap of locations.  An honorable mention list must include New Orleans, Washington DC, and New York, but here are the four that made the final cut.

The United Kingdom
Big surprise there!  Obviously London – past and present – is number one of my list.  I have been an Anglophile forever, and although I have only had the opportunity to travel to the UK once, I love the juxtaposition between old and new, ancient and modern.  The history combined with all the cultural influences makes the setting full of literary opportunities.  With such a rich history, mysteries can be set in so many different time periods.  I love to read about the social customs and class mores that are indicative to each era.  Some of my favorite authors include maps of historical London and it is fascinating to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

I love to read about modern London in Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James New Scotland Yard adventures, Regency London through the eyes of C. S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr, and Victorian London’s Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch.

Of course, the great thing about the UK is that you can include Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.  My favorite mystery writer, Anna Lee Huber, sets her Georgian Lady Darby series in Scotland.  A modern day Wales is seen in Elizabeth Dunnett’s Penny Brannigan series and Rhys Bowen’s Evan Evans mysteries.

San Francisco
You have probably also noticed my love of San Francisco.  Ah, if money were no object . . . actually, it is an object, just one I don’t have a lot of!  Once again, it is a city with a lot of history and diversity.  With influences from the West and its role in the American Gold Rush and westward expansion history, there is a wealth of potential for conflict and personality.  The cultural and ethnic enclaves within the city are so vibrant that they are also individual and unique settings within the larger city.

I love Juliet Blackwell’s witchcraft series that is set in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco; the author does a great job at describing the tone and feel of this vibrant neighborhood.  Kate Carlisle is another favorite author of mine; her stories are set all around the heart of the city but she also travels up 101 across the Golden Gate Bridge to the wine country as well.  I just discovered Nancy Herriman’s novel of Old San Francisco set post Gold Rush and I look forward to more in that series.

New England
The crisp fall air.  The smell of apple pie.  The sound the pounding surf.  The sight of a dead body.  Don’t you love New England!!  Having lived in the Northeast, I quickly fell in love with the region and it truly does provide a wonderful backdrop to a great crime!  Seriously though, the history, the topography, and customs of decades old generations makes New England a great setting.

Quintessential New England towns provide the perfect setting for Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Russ VanAlstyne and Clare Fergusson contemporary mysteries that feature a small town cop and an Episcopalian priest, and for Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lovers mysteries set in coastal Connecticut.  Kaitlyn Dunnett channels a Scottish heritage in the fictitious Moosetookalook, Maine.

France
Ironically, France had never been a place I had a huge desire to visit, until I was introduced to two great mystery series sent in this beautiful and culturally rich country.  Wine, cheese, the French Alps, the French Riviera.  Seriously, what was I thinking?  Of course I would love to go there!!

Two writers that I really enjoy include Mark Pryor and M.L. Longworth.  Mark Pryor’s Hugo Marston series is set mainly in Paris and I enjoy reading about both the famous and infamous stops that he visits within the city.  M.L. Longworth’s Verlaque and Bonnet series takes place in Aix-en-Provence, which is in southern France not too far from Marseille.  I really enjoy the contrast between the two geographically and culturally diverse areas.

Interesting . . . I have lived in two of these locations; perhaps it is time to move again?  As I wrote this, it got me thinking about specific places from novels that I have read that I would like to visit.  I think I see another blog post topic!  How about you?  What are your favorite book settings?

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No Comfort for the Lost (Mystery of Old San Francisco 1)

No Comfort for the Lost
Title:  No Comfort for the Lost (Mystery of Old San Francisco 1)
Author:  Nancy Herriman
Publisher:  Penguin
Publication Date:  2015
ISBN:  978-0-451-47489-6

Book Summary:
In 1867 San Francisco, tensions run high between the Chinese who have immigrated in search of a better life and the San Francisco population of Irish, Polish, Italian, and other nationalities.  The “native” San Franciscans accuse the Chinese of stealing their jobs, and riots and fights are breaking out all over the city.

After serving as a nurse in the Crimea, Celia Davies, a British born woman from a well-to-do family, left her home to follow her new husband to America.  After arriving in San Francisco and being disillusioned by the gold rush, her husband Patrick disappears on a merchant ship and is presumed dead.  Although there is no love lost between Celia and her brother-in-law Tom, when he is accused of the murder of Li-Sha, the mother of his child, she feels compelled to help clear his name.  Li-Sha was a friend of Celia and her cousin Barbara, and she was Chinese.  The police are happy to let Tom hang for the crime, but Detective Nicholas Greaves begrudgingly agrees with Celia that there is more to the story.

Celia’s work at a woman’s clinic that caters to the poor of all ethnicities and her innate curiosity have a tendency to put her in precarious situations.  Her concern for safety must also extend to her cousin Barbara who is both half-Chinese and lame from a club foot, and her Scottish housekeeper Addie.  When the threats encroach dangerously close to home, Celia and Nicholas must work together to solve the case.  The safety and security of Celia and her sister and the entire Chinese population are at stake if they aren’t successful.

Book Commentary:                      
I’m doing the happy dance!  I love a new series and this one comes highly recommended.  When three authors I have read and enjoyed – Anna Lee Huber, Victoria Thompson, and Alyssa Maxwell – have author comments on the cover, I know it is a book I should look at.

The concept of a strong, dominant higher class female and an honest truth-seeking police detective in a corrupt environment is not a new one.  However, there are a number of factors that make this book unique.  First, the setting of San Francisco following the Civil War provides a wealth of cultural and political intrigue.  Prior to the great earthquake of 1906 but following the height of the Gold Rush, the city is in a state of flux and numerous groups and individuals are vying for power and control.  The distance from both the eastern part of the US and the proximity to the west brings in a diverse population and unique social and economic conflicts.

Second, Celia is English, served as a nurse in the Crimea, and now cares for the under-privileged and ignored of the city.  As a nurse and a married woman, albeit with a missing husband, she is allowed access to areas that might be prohibited to women.  Because her uncle married a Chinese woman during the Gold Rush and her cousin is half-Chinese, Celia has first-hand experience with prejudice in her role as Barbara’s guardian.

Finally Nick is a police officer with his own demons.  Allusions to a dead sister and a lost-love, coupled with the memories of the horrors he saw while serving during the Civil War, provide his character with some depth and mystery.  I am curious to know more about him!

Who might like this book:
Anyone who likes period mysteries with a little romance should check this book out.  The time period, setting, and well-defined characters make this a series that shows a great deal of promise and I look forward to following Celia and Nick on their next adventure.  Book 2 – No Pity for the Dead comes out in August 2016.