Bert Marchetti, an old family friend of Cree's and an SFPD homicide inspector, has asked Cree to help investigate a human skeleton recently unearthed in the foundation of a fine Victorian home-apparently the bones of a victim of the 1906 earthquake. The bones have been sent to UC Berkeley for analysis, where their peculiar characteristics have intrigued the forensic anthropology team. They call the skeleton Wolfman.
Who was the wolfman? What caused his anatomical deformities, and how did he end up in that grand hilltop home? Cree's historical research takes her back to the unholy glory days of the Barbary Coast, old San Francisco's infamous red-light district. As she assists at the forensics lab, she also begins to realize that Bert Marchetti's involvement with the case is more complex than he has let on. Her narrative is illuminated by entries from the 1889 diary of Lydia Schweitzer, a Victorian woman with her own secrets-and her own compelling interest in the person who would come to be known as the wolfman. A vivid and elegantly plotted thriller that reveals San Francisco's hidden face across two centuries, Bones of the Barbary Coast tells the story of two women determined to face human nature's darkest aspects with courage and compassion.
In Hecht's less than satisfying third novel to feature paranormal investigator Lucretia "Cree" Black (after 2004's Land of Echoes), an old family friend, SFPD homicide detective Bert Marchetti, who's nearing retirement and wishes to leave the force with as few loose ends as possible, enlists Cree's help with an unusual skeletal find an apparent victim of the 1906 earthquake whose strange physiognomy leads the forensic anthropologists on the case to dub him the Wolfman. The detective's motives become suspect when Cree realizes that his agenda may include settling scores with a deformed radiologist Marchetti believes is an unpunished murderer. The chance discovery of a 19th-century diary enables Cree to piece together some details about the Wolfman, but the two main plot lines never quite mesh, and her risky actions belie her reputation for being levelheaded.