Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery

Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery

4.1 115
by M. Louisa Locke

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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


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 his death was 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.

Editorial Reviews

Ariel Heart
"This historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco is a complete package of a modified locked room puzzle, more than one murder, daring undercover snooping, romantic tension and a few twists and turns for a powerhouse of a debut novel. The climax and revealing of the murderer was tense and an edge-of-your-seat ordeal where Annie is in very real danger. The ending was satisfying and I put the book down smiling at the wrap-up. I think you will find it captivating."
Penny Leisch
"Maids of Misfortune is smoothly written, with appealing characters and a strong female lead in a story filled with real detection, a lot of period detail (is there a better way to get into the details of everyday life than through the eyes of a servant?), and a bit of banter-filled romance to help stir the pot. Fun reading for historical mystery fans, especially those with a taste for Victorian settings on the look for something a bit different."
Rebecca Dahike
“Not to do a spoiler here, but Ms. Locke had me in the first chapter with her protagonist changing her crisp, proper persona into one of a totally different woman. The characters are warm, charming, and the mystery perfectly played out. That it's a historical with lovely references about San Francisco, Ca. are a big plus in my book. It's a skillfully crafted and highly entertaining book and I can't wait for the next one.”

Product Details

CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)

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Meet the Author

M. Louisa Locke is a retired U.S and Women's history professor who has embarked on a new career with the publication of her best-selling Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, including Maids of Misfortune, Uneasy Spirits, Bloody Lessons, and her short stories.

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Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 115 reviews.
r2d2jsh More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book; I read a lot of historical mysteries, and this one was right up my alley. It was fun learning about California during Victorian times, the characters were super likable, and the mystery was good as well! I'm really looking forward to future books in the series.
nana-et-al More than 1 year ago
Excellent reading! I enjoyed this book a lot. I loved the characters especially Annie. And all the historical background of San Francisco in the late 1800s was fascinating, especially fascinating was learning just exactly what all a servant had to do in those days. I got worn out just reading about it. And the mystery never got bogged down. It flowed from page to page and kept your interest up to the last paragraph. I highly recommend this book.
rgh1960 More than 1 year ago
I don't generally give a book five stars but after reading--or attempting to read--a string of disappointing "historical" novels by other authors I'm so delighted by this one that I'm happy to break my own rule. M. Louisa Locke's knowledge of her chosen era and location are flawless, and her writing skills are first-rate. She's created an intelligent, capable, independent heroine who is still true to her place in Victorian society. Would-be writers, take note: you can NOT take a modern woman with blatantly modern attitudes, put her in long skirts, have her complain a couple of times about her restrictive corset, and think you're writing an historical novel! I also found the hero and secondary characters engaging, my favorite being Mr. Wong. And the amount of historical detail in the settings and situations was wonderful, like a bag of delicious candy to this history geek! But it never dragged down the narrative and never seemed superfluous, like it had been thrown in just to say "Look at the research I did!" Plus, I didn't have the mystery figured out halfway through the book, so all-in-all this book was a great read! I will keep it and add it to my list of books worthy of rereading, and look forward with great pleasure to reading the other novels and short stories in this series.
bicoastal More than 1 year ago
A view into a past society complete with period locations and lost society mores - light reading but interesting characters
ladylimberlost More than 1 year ago
Well told story that held my interest to the end! I'm a voracious reader of well-constructed light mysteries & am so anxious for the author to put out more books with these characters! A touch of history and a great story! Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This well written book gives great history of Victorian San Francisco. Characters are believable. Interesting perspective on the domestic servants. Plot holds your attention and ending was a good shocker. Definitely rates 5 stars.
indiebrag More than 1 year ago
We are proud to announce that The Maids of Misfortune is a 2012 B.R.A.G.MedallionTM Honoree. This book is certainly worth you time and money!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed reading this book. For one I loved the era and the history involved. The story line was captivating and played well right on through to the end...almost wished it hadn't ended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazed at the depth of historical research such as knowledge of the Laurel Hill Cemetery which was long ago removed, the State Normal School in San Jose, etc. Enjoyed it very much.
WiLoveBooks More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this historical mystery. It is set in San Francisco in 1879. Annie is a young widow who owns a boarding house and poses as a clairvoyant to make money. She is very intelligent and resourceful and unconventional for her time. I really liked her character. There are other great characters as well, including Nate, the lawyer she works with while trying to prove that a client's death was murder. A fun, light mystery with just a touch of romance. I look forward to reading the next book. I am curious to see how things work out with the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good read. Although i had figured out who done it before the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly delightful story. The author made the characters believable. A little of everything...humor, romance ,mystery, suspence, intrigue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cozy mystery taking place in 1800's. Enchanting--could not put it down & sorry when it was over.
mge1 More than 1 year ago
The writer spins a story of romance and intrigue
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This had a really good story line, but I felt the descriptions of housework where a little too detailed. More information could have been written on the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
interesting facts about the Victorian era and a wonderful "pull you in" kind of mystery. Would read other books that had the main character (series).
pupper More than 1 year ago
For a freebie, the book wasn't bad. It's quite like the Daisie Gumm series by Alice Duncan ... quick, humorous, and a bit of history about the era.
ReaderintheWest More than 1 year ago
Late in life, I have now become a convert to mysteries! I doubt I’ve read two mysteries in my lifetime but am so happy to have given Maids of Misfortune a chance. The author’s attention to detail brings the setting, 1800s San Francisco, to life. The story is unique and kept me engaged throughout. There were no boring interludes, no leaps of logic or holes in believability—every scene led swiftly into the next, and the writing is skillful and visual, with such lines as “She was offering him her hand, her warm brown eyes looking directly at his, her mouth flirting with a smile, her light brown curls capturing the sunlight with a hint of fire.” Suspense scenes (that I must not record here) left me wondering how the protagonist would ever escape, and kept me reading long into the night. Then there’s Nate. At first I couldn’t stand him, and, apparently, neither could Annie, Maids of Misfortune’s female protagonist. Nate can arguably be called priggish, judgmental, and rude. Who wants to hear some man tell you that, “I don’t suppose it would do me any good to point out that your attendance at this affair is totally unnecessary and highly irregular?” Pompous. Yes, that is the Nate we are introduced to. Annie has quite a temper, as it turns out, and so does Nate, so they are beautifully at cross-purposes through much of the book. Every now and then the author adds to the authenticity of the setting when Annie or Nate view the world around them. I found some of this very moving, like, when Nate (in a mask) sparks an old memory of something Annie’s father said. They had witnessed a Mexican bandit being hauled in the back of a cart. Annie, a child, had asked her father what he had done wrong, and he replied, “He has had the misfortune of living past his time and trusting in the honor of Americans. He was trying to take back what we stole from him.” Another detail I particularly loved and which contributed to the setting were scenes of “servant-hood.” The endless, filthy, demanding, exhausting work, day after day, starting early and ending late. These were vivid and colorful, and surprisingly humorous at times, eliciting full out laughter. I have always loved reading about what people ate, and there is one memorable scene of a picnic by the sea, complete with buttered buttermilk biscuits, jams, thick slices of cold ham, apple cider, and chocolate cake. Yum! In closing, I would say this book has nearly everything a reader could want. Interesting settings, intriguing, complex characters, romance, and suspense.
Anonymous 3 days ago
You can feel the determination in the main character to over come all obstacles life has to throw at her.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Very fun murder and love mystery.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Enjoyed everything about this book and looking forward to more!!
Anonymous 7 months ago
Good historcal fiction romane and mystery
Anonymous 7 months ago
Story was interesting but Annie was a little much at times. She was too involved in all the Voss problems. Loved Wong and he could have had a bigger part in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From beginng to end. I loved it!