In this atmospheric historical mystery series debut, a courageous nurse and a war-scarred police detective in 1860s San Francisco champion the down-trodden and fight for justice …
After serving as a nurse in the Crimea, British-born Celia Davies left her privileged family for an impulsive marriage to a handsome Irishman. Patrick brought her to San Francisco’s bustling shores but then disappeared and is now presumed dead. Determined to carry on, Celia partnered with her half-Chinese cousin Barbara and her opinionated housekeeper Addie to open a free medical clinic for women who have nowhere else to turn. But Celia’s carefully constructed peace crumbles when one of her Chinese patients is found brutally murdered…and Celia’s hotheaded brother-in-law stands accused of the crime.
A veteran of America’s civil war, detective Nicholas Greaves is intent on discovering the killer of the girl, whose ethnicity and gender render her as powerless in death as they did in life. Nicholas’s efforts are complicated by Celia, who has a knack for walking into dangerous situations that may lead to answers…or get them both killed. For as their inquiries take them from Chinatown’s squalid back alleys to the Barbary Coast’s violent shipping docks to the city’s gilded parlors, Celia and Nicholas begin to suspect that someone very close to them holds the key to a murderous conspiracy…
Set in San Francisco in 1867, Herriman's entertaining series debut introduces nurse Celia Davies and police detective Nick Greaves, who investigate the murder of Li Sha, a former prostitute whom Celia befriended through her work in the city's Chinatown. After purchasing her freedom, Li Sha became involved with Tom Davies, brother of Celia's missing and presumed dead husband. When Tom is arrested for the murder, Celia resolves to clear his name, despite their rocky relationship and warnings from Nick, whose supervisors want the case closed. Herriman (The Irish Healer) vividly depicts the racism of the day, which leads to violence against the Chinese and anyone perceived to be sympathetic to them. Celia's teenage cousin, Barbara, herself half Chinese, puts a face on racial tensions, but her character isn't developed fully enough to provide nuanced insights. Interactions between Celia and Nick read like formula romance at times, though readers who like independent heroines should welcome this historical series.