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Posted December 9, 2008
More of a whodunit than a legal thriller
In the 1880s in San Francisco, attorney Sarah Woolson has left the prestigious firm of Shepard, Shepard, McNaughton, and Hall to begin her own practice over the objection of her lawyer boyfriend Robert Campbell. He objects even louder when she persuades him to accompany her to Cliff House for a séance hosted by Russian psychic Madame Karpova on a stormy night. Eleven guests in all including Senator Gaylord and his wife attend.------------------- Madame Karpova sets the mood and seems to be talking with those from beyond as she performs a dazzling array of parlor tricks. However, uninvited gate crasher columnist Darien Moss whose scorn causes Dmitry Serkov to leave in disgust decides to expose her as a fraud when the lights go out when they return he is dead strangled by a balalaika string. Sarah investigates with Robert at her side trying to keep her out of trouble while her brother and father abet her efforts even when more séance attendees die.----------------------- The third Woolson historical tale is more of a whodunit than a legal thriller though a subplot involving an abused spouse with a child fleeing from an alcoholic husband is stunning. The excitement and sense of time and place remains strong (see MURDER ON NOB HILL and THE RUSSIAN HILL MURDERS). The story line is fast-paced as Sarah seems to be battling ghosts, gypsies, gulls, and government in her effort to uncover the culprit. With homage to Christie¿s And Then There Was One, readers will wonder who did it and why----------- Harriet Klausner
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THE CLIFF HOUSE STRANGLER has a great opening -- a seance at San Francisco's Cliff House on a dark and stormy night. Okay, the dark and stormy night bit might be a little cliched, but here it works! Sarah Woolson and her complaining colleague and friend Robert Campbell, brave the above mentioned storm to travel in a carriage to the Cliff House. There, twelve people are gathered around the seance table -- headed by a famous and mysterious Russian clairvoyant -- when the sole candle suddenly flickers out and the room is thrown into eerie darkness. When the candle is once again lit, everyone is astounded to find a dead body at the table, strangled to death with a string from a musical instrument. The action and suspense continues from here, getting more and more exciting as it goes along.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I loved everything about this book, from the first sentence to the thrilling conclusion. Tallman incorporates an intriguing DA VINCI CODE element to the story, as Sarah tries to decipher clues written in a strange and unfamiliar language. You'll never guess who finally breaks the code! (And I'm not telling)
This is a terrific historical whodunit -- fast paced, full of wonderful characters, and a setting that springs to life on every page. Highly recommended!
Posted August 22, 2010
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