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The Bohemian Murders (Fremont Jones Series #3)

The Bohemian Murders (Fremont Jones Series #3)

4.3 3
by Dianne Day

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Forced to leave San Francisco after the devastating earthquake of 1906, Fremont (née Caroline) Jones follows her heart to the bohemian beach community of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  She is eager to be reunited with her elusive suitor, retired spymaster Michael Archer, but finds him mysteriously metamorphosed into Misha—otherwise occupied and decidedly


Forced to leave San Francisco after the devastating earthquake of 1906, Fremont (née Caroline) Jones follows her heart to the bohemian beach community of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  She is eager to be reunited with her elusive suitor, retired spymaster Michael Archer, but finds him mysteriously metamorphosed into Misha—otherwise occupied and decidedly unavailable for sleuthing.  But the irrepressible Fremont Jones has her pride, and determined to restart her typewriting business part-time, she signs on as temporary keeper of the Point Pinos Lighthouse.

She has barely settled in to her watch when a velvet-clad corpse washes in on the tide—and Fremont is off on a new and ultimately life-threatening quest.  Starting with the free-spirited artists of Carmel, she searches for clues to the identity of the dead woman and uncovers a community filled with intrigue, violence, and plenty of motives for murder.  When Fremont is attacked and robbed, her lighthouse torched, and the artist helping her turns up missing, she realizes she is perilously close to the truth.  And that the next body to drift in on the tide might well be her own.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A special treat. Highly recommended."
—Chicago Tribune

—San Francisco Chronicle

"A plucky heroine, a darkly handsome suitor and a glimpse into the past all add to the charms of this series."
—Star Tribune, Minneapolis

"Dianne Day has coupled an irresistible mix of local color, compelling characterization and imaginative writing with a solid story line which has captivated readers all over the country."
—Monterey Herald

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake is over, but independent-minded Fremont Jones, still feeling its effects (detailed in Fire and Fog), has vacated the city to become the temporary lighthouse keeper at Point Pinos, near Carmel. Her former neighbor, Michael Archer, to whom she remains attracted, has taken a cottage in Carmel where he calls himself Misha and pursues a bohemian life. The no-nonsense Fremont is dismayed by this change. But, practical woman that she is, she's glad when some of his coterie of artistic friends hire her to type their manuscripts. From the lighthouse she observes a red object floating in the treacherous coastal waters and calls the Coast Guard when she sees it is a body washing up on the shore. When no one can identify the young woman in the beautiful red dress, Fremont vows to establish her identity and give her a proper burial. Fremont questions the locals, learns that a land developer is wining and dining the wealthy residents and later discovers that the dead woman was one of the actresses hired for the developer's lavish parties. An artist who drew a portrait of the dead woman disappears, and Fremont's investigation turns mortally dangerous. Mysteries of the heart feature large in the latest adventure of an outspoken heroine whose assured demeanor sometimes masks a pleasantly vulnerable interior. (July)
Library Journal
A fiercely independent heroine of San Francisco's 1906 earthquake (see Fire and Fog, LJ 6/1/96), Fremont Jones follows her sort-of suitor, Michael Archer, to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Soon after accepting a job at the lighthouse, she discovers a dead woman and begins investigating. An attractive and involving historical.
School Library Journal
YA--This light mystery with a gothic touch takes place in 1907 in the California seacoast towns of Monterey and Carmel. Intrepid typist Fremont Jones, who appeared in two previous books, has left San Francisco and taken a temporary job as a lighthouse keeper. She finds a body floating in the surf near her beach. The police seem uninterested in the woman's identity, and her body disappears from the local mortuary after the coroner rules that she was murdered. Later, Fremont is attacked by a masked rider as she travels through the fog-shrouded forest in her rig. Caught up in these baffling events, she decides to find out who the woman was and who killed her. Meanwhile Fremont's mysterious lover is living nearby in a colony of bohemian artists. His eccentric friends add much color and humor to the story, and eventually lead to the solution of the crime. Teens should enjoy this romantic mystery with its interesting historical setting.--Penny Stevens, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
What do you do for an encore to the San Francisco Earthquake? Fremont Jones, the enterprising typist who survived the quake in typically adventurous style (Fire and Fog, 1996), isn't quite ready to follow her enigmatic suitor Michael Archer all the way to Carmel-by-the-Sea. But she's willing to follow him most of the way, just over the hills to Pacific Grove, where she's taken up a six-month residence as temporary keeper of the Point Pinos Lighthouse. The job is not only thoroughly appropriate for Fremont's independent spirit; it also allows her to be on hand when a body floats past the lighthouse down Monterey Bay. Alerted by Fremont, the authorities pluck the well- dressed corpse from the bay and establish that she was dead before she hit the water. But it's soon clear that despite her finery, nobody cares about this Jane Doe—not Michael (now calling himself "Misha Kossoff"), who refuses to ask his neighbors about her because nobody knows he's gone missing; not his new acquaintances, free-living artists who seem good for nothing but serving as colorful suspects and future victims; and certainly not the police. But it's going to be hard for Fremont to get the body identified when Phoebe Brown, the obliging sculptor who draws a picture of the dead face, soon disappears along with all of her sketches—and the corpse itself.

Fremont's standby good humor, and the two shivery and generously excerpted manuscripts she's typing—a volume of ghost stories and a disturbing tale about a man who buys dreams—help offset the lack of mystery or excitement at the heart of her third case.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Fremont Jones Series , #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt


Date: January 9, 1907

Wind: SW, light gusting to moderate

Weather: Cool, some clouds after morning fog

Comments: Moderate swells on bay.  Whale migration beginning, one spouter spotted, boat out of Monterey Whaling Station observed in pursuit.

[signed] Fremont Jones, Deputy

for Henrietta Houck

Keeper, Point Piños Light

I suppose my luck ran out.  Or perhaps it was only that I made a mistake, or two, or three.  Nothing really disastrous—I have a different, one might say heightened, definition of disaster since last year's Great Earthquake and the fire that followed.  Nevertheless my recent mistakes have caused me heartache and embarrassment, and a good deal of inconvenience, not to mention insecurity.  Indeed sometimes I look around me in this beautiful yet alien place and wonder what in the world I am doing here.

I do a good bit of looking around because that is part of my job: I make observations and keep a log; I also keep accounts and order supplies and oversee the man who tends the property.  I do these things in my capacity as deputy keeper (status: temporary) of the Point Piños Lighthouse.  I tell myself that I am fortunate to have this job for six months, and therefore my luck cannot really have run out—that is what I tell myself.

The lighthouse at Point Piños is nothing like a certain other lighthouse I visited a couple of years ago, to the north of San Francisco.  For one thing, this is in the opposite direction, south, by more than a hundred miles, and for another, it is not the least threatening in appearance or in atmosphere.  This lighthouse looks like a Cape Cod cottage with a tower and lantern stuck onto its roof like an afterthought.  Point Piños is the southern headland of Monterey Bay, acres of dunes and scrub rolling down to a rocky, granite coastline, surrounded on three sides by water and on the fourth by thick forest a mile deep.  Beyond that forest is the prosperous little town of Pacific Grove; in the other direction, some three miles as the crow flies but farther by road and beyond another forest, is a tiny, rustic village called Carmel-by-the-Sea.  If more felicitous surroundings exist anywhere on earth, I have not seen them.  Yet I am quite perverse: Often I am discontented and wish I were somewhere else.

I have not given up typewriting; in fact I have a brand-new Royal typewriter, which, like its predecessor, is my most prized possession. However I have had difficulty, due to the aforementioned mistakes, in getting my business started in this new place.  I tell myself it will happen, nothing is impossible—that is what I tell myself.

I was telling myself something of the sort around four o'clock in the afternoon of January 9, 1907, as I gazed idly out the watch-room window.  The watch room is located at the base of the lantern tower, so it is round and rather small but pleasant enough, particularly considering the panoramic view.  Hettie (short for Henrietta) Houck, the real keeper of the light, used the watch room as a sort of office and so I do the same.

I met Hettie last month because I was thrown out of a boardinghouse in Pacific Grove on an accusation of immoral conduct, and she happened to be on the sidewalk outside at the time.  My so-called immoral conduct was that I had, earlier that evening, entertained a male person in my room with the door closed.  This male person was my friend Michael Archer, who now lives in Carmel; the "entertainment" was an argument between us, a very personal sort of argument, which was why I had closed the door.  The reason for the argument was that I had made a huge mistake about Michael—or Misha, as he now prefers to be called—but I didn't make it all alone; he misled me.  And from that most crucial mistake, all the other mistakes flowed...

"What is that?" I asked aloud of no one, and picked up the binoculars.  There was something riding the waves just beyond an offshore rock formation that I call the Three Sisters; whether the three rocks have an official name or not I don't know.  The object was about the same size as a sea lion, but it was predominantly red and they are always brown.  Nor was it a seal.  Seals, unlike sea lions, do come in different colors—but none of God's creatures (except humans, who alone are capable of artifice) comes in that particular shade of scarlet.

Try as I might, I could not see the object well enough to tell what it was, even with the aid of the binoculars.  I put them back on the desk and went out of the watch room, up the circular stairs that climb inside the tower, and out onto the platform beneath the lantern that houses the third-order Fresnel lens.  On the platform there is a powerful spotting telescope, which with some fiddling I managed to focus on the Three Sisters.

"Botheration!" I expostulated; the odd object was gone. Perhaps it had swum away, but I did not think so.  I lifted my head and scanned with naked eye, occasionally fighting back strands of long hair lifted by wind gusts, until I found it again.  It had drifted, or possibly swum, a few yards north and closer in to the rocky shore.  I aimed the telescope and refocused.

Indeed it was not swimming, not moving through the water of its own locomotion, but rather you might say that the ocean was having its way with this thing.  Nor was it entirely red—I caught flashes of white and black as well.  Whatever it was, the incoming tide brought it relentlessly closer to shore, until it was caught in the crest of a breaking wave, tumbled over and over in flashes of red and black and white, and for a moment I thought—

"Oh, no," I said, pushing my face harder against the telescope as if that alone could clarify my view, and louder I cried: "No!"

But there was no denying it: The object had both arms and legs of a pale, sickly white.  And a head with face obscured by a mass of black hair.  It was human, probably female, surely drowned.

What People are Saying About This

Margaret Maron
"Uncorseted and thoroughly liberated, Fremont Jones is the American cousin of Amelia Peabody and Charlotte Pitt - opinionated, resourceful, imaginative, brave, and thoroughly entertaining."
Carolyn G. Hart
"Dianne Day provides a delightful heroine on the lively, twisty, intriguing mystery...but there are readers who'll also delight in the exuberant portrait of turn-of-the-century San Francisco and in the fast-paced story filled with surprises."

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