The Cliff House Strangler
A Sarah Woolson Mystery
By Shirley Tallman
(Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312357566, 336pp.)
Publication Date: July 10, 2007
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
Nineteenth-century attorney Sarah Woolson is still trying to get her life together. Against her family's wishes, she opens her own San Francisco law firm, only to find that clients---paying clients, that is---are wary of allowing a woman to manage their legal affairs. Just when her patience, as well as her money, are about to run out, Sarah and her friend and former colleague, Robert Campbell, attend a séance at San Francisco's Cliff House. Making their way through the worst storm of the season, they arrive at their destination to find themselves in for much more than, in Robert's words, "silly parlor tricks." After a dramatic display of spirit apparitions, flying trumpets, and phantom music, Madame Olga Karpova---a renowned Russian clairvoyant---and her guests make a grisly discovery: One of the twelve people seated at the table has been brutally strangled.
Later, when two more séance participants are found slain, Sarah is pressed into defending the accused murderer. Working on her client's case, she quickly finds herself at the center of a complicated murder plot involving ghosts, gypsies, and City Hall, all the while facing off with Robert in a volatile legal battle and investigating her brother Frederick's shady political dealings. Hardly proper behavior for a nineteenth-century woman, but Sarah wouldn't have it any other way.
Feisty and determined, Sarah continues to flout the notions of "proper" femininity in this series that is a turn-of-the-century answer to Legally Blonde.
Shirley Tallman was born in Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco at an early age. She and her husband, Bob, live in Eugene, Oregon, where she continues to work as a novelist and screenwriter.
"Credible characters, cleverly subtle clues, and a highly satisfying conclusion mark these intriguing tales as superior examples of [their] subgenres. . . . Fans of nineteenth-century sleuths like those of Anne Perry and Miriam Grace Monfredo will be well satisfied."
---Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Lively details of a lively time and place spice up a feisty heroine's struggles against sexism."
"Delightful . . . Sarah throws herself into [her] cases with her trademark bullheadedness, resourcefulness, and clever thinking, making for a spiffy little step-back-in-time mystery."
"Sarah is a tenacious, gutsy woman who will do anything to prove her client's innocence and continually bucks society in her quest. Shirley Tallman does a masterful job of recreating the nineteenth-century setting. . . . Readers will be in Sarah's corner from the first page to the last. A thoroughly enjoyable read."
---New Mystery Reader
"Sarah Woolson is spunky as hell---law was a very male profession in the 1880s---and San Francisco is a great locale."
---Contra Costa Times