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Maids of Misfortune (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #1)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  4,974 Ratings  ·  516 Reviews
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 Mada ...more
Paperback, 327 pages
Published December 3rd 2009 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 08, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
It can be difficult for me to read books about San Francisco; it irritates me when they take too many liberties, and it annoys me when they get things wrong. That said, Victorian San Francisco was done well, and I felt like the setting was well handled; it was S.F., but it wasn't overdone, and it was never really about the city.

Rather, the book was about Mrs. Annie Fuller, the widow who has found a way to eke out a living by running a boarding house and offering financial advice as the clairvoya
Oct 22, 2015 Norain rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started as a pleasant enough read, only to end not as a mystery left alone a detective novel, but a romance. And a sloppy one at that too. The criminal was predictable as was the plot and even an attempt to try and tempt the reader into guessing the wrong person as the perpetrator was a weak one. Dwelt too much on the feeling Annie and Nate had for each other, and one could not help wonder why all the twist if the story would end as easily and untroubled as it was? Should have put more Sybil in ...more
Pearl Barley
Jun 18, 2012 Pearl Barley rated it it was amazing
Absolutely delightful cozy mystery with plots and twists to get your teeth into. I loved the way I was drawn straight into the life of Annie, a young widow running a boarding house and who mascarades as a clairvoyant to make ends meet. One of her clients dies and to all intents and purposes it looks like suicide, but not to Annie who find anomalies in the subsequent reporting of his death as well as vital business papers missing that lead her to suspect murder. Then she leaps on the trail even t ...more
Charlotte English
I loved the character of Annie Fuller from the first page. Already a widow at the age of twenty-six, she's been pushed around, mistreated, gone from wealth right down to destitution and still pulled herself back. As the story opens, we find her the owner of a respectable boarding house, enjoying the independence she deserves. And if I had to describe Annie Fuller in one word, 'independent' is the word I would use. Nobody tells this lady how to behave!

She augments her modest living by masqueradin
Annie Fuller, widow, runs a boarding house and supplemets her income by posing as a psychic medium providing financial, business and relationship advise from her San Francisco home. She's about to lose her home to the man who helped ruin her husband. When one of her favorite clients, Matthew Voss dies unexpectedly, leaving her $10 and shares in a mining company, Annie is stunned. The police claim suidice due to financial ruin but Annie knows that is far from true. She sets out to discover the tr ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Loretta rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly enjoyable book by M L Locke. I was drawn to the setting in San Francisco, a favourite city by the sea! Also the 'Victorian' atmosphere...strange how Victoria lent her name to an era which applied all over the world. The research is just brilliant, one was totally drawn into it, so natural is the writing. I learnt a good deal about the aches and pains, the long working days, the attitudes to servants in those days. Interesting reversal of roles when Annie, the heroine of our tale, be ...more
Annie Fuller is an independent widow running a boarding house while dispensing advice from the parlor disguised as clairvoyant 'Madame Sybil'. Shocked by the apparent suicide of one of 'Sybil's' favorite clients, Annie is determined to prove Matthew Voss's death was not suicide but murder.

Annie knows the police officer first on the scene and is able to learn details about the crime from him. Voss's attorney, Nathaniel Dawson does some investigation of his own and discovers Voss's connection to
Jan 19, 2016 Vicki rated it really liked it
I loved getting to know Annie Fuller. She was a widow in 1879 San Francisco that owned a boarding house. She also moonlighted as a clairvoyant to pay her bills. Annie had a clear mmd concerning finances and while playing clairvoyant advisor she became friends and financial advisor to Matthew Voss.

After the murder of Voss Annie felt she had to try to prove that his death was not a suicide. She meets young attorney Nathaniel Dawson and working together they try to figure out what exactly happened
May 30, 2011 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book free for my Kindle on Amazon. It intrigued me because it is written by a retired history professor and takes place in Victorian-era San Francisco, both an historical era and a city of which I am fond.

I found this novel light but enjoyable, with a fiesty and intelligent heroine who is contastantly at battle with the social mores of the period. A young widow and boardinghouse owner, Annie Fuller moonlights as a clairvoyant, giving personal and financial advice based on sound rese
Jan 18, 2015 Erin rated it really liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I'll be the first to admit I wasn’t expecting Maids of Misfortune to keep my attention past bed time. I'd already read Dandy Detects and though I found it enjoyable, the short story wasn’t exactly a page turner so I was unprepared when Locke's full-length mystery proved difficult to put aside.

The first installment of the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series introduces readers Annie Fuller, an enterprising boarding house m
Abigail Padgett
Mar 20, 2011 Abigail Padgett rated it it was amazing
Locke mines the complexity of the Victorian Era in Maids of Misfortune, adroitly shedding light in shadowy corners of a time now as subject to stereotype as Regency England. But Annie Fuller is no stereotype. Widowed when her husband committed suicide, Annie has fled his abusive family to establish a rooming house in a San Francisco property left her by an aunt. To supplement the meager income generated by this endeavor, Annie operates an intriguing business on the side – as a clairvoyant!

Jan 31, 2012 Marla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-library
I got this as a free book off of Amazon's free book list. It took me a while to get into it, but that was probably due to the fact that I was only able to read it in fits and starts till about the middle of the book. At that point I was able to read it in much longer stretches. The main character managed to be a bit of a more modern heroine without being too out of the norm for the late 1800's I thought. The take down of the villain was humorous and I laughed out loud at several points.

When I go
Jun 15, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
As a gently-bred widow in nineteenth century San Francisco, Annie Fuller struggles to be financially independent. To supplement her boarding house earnings, she also gives advice masquerading as a fortune teller. When one of her favorite clients seemingly commits suicide on the eve of his greatest triumph, only Annie is suspicious. The police won't listen to her theories, so she goes undercover as a maid in home of her late client. The family he left behind is in desperate straits, and Annie doe ...more
Light reading of the cosy sort. It made for a quick read while travelling. Characters were interesting enough that I'd read another in the series should one come my way.Nice to see San Francisco in its olden, golden days. I did employ some willing suspension of disbelief, but, on the whole, liked the book. It's been several weeks since I read it, so a plot summary would be crap. Let's just leave it as "I liked it."
Sep 27, 2012 Kristin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, kindle, mystery
I liked the character that the protagonist was trying to be; independent, smart, strong willed. But over the course of the book she seemed to take a dive into the ditzy schoolgirl category and it became more and more annoying to watch her stumble through nothing day in and day out. I thought the "romance" aspects were a bit contrived though I liked the characterization of the male lead and I was hoping to see the protagonist relationship expanded a bit more before the end. Overall, nothing reall ...more
May 21, 2016 Aisling rated it it was amazing
An excellent historical mystery/romance. I loved the fiesty heroine Annie and the ending was terrific. A well crafted mystery with good red herrings, likeable characters, and tension (both in the mystery and romance).
Jul 27, 2016 Pam rated it it was amazing
Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery is by M. Louisa Locke. It is well written and the characters are represented realistically as they might be in the Victorian Age, although Annie is a bit more independent than young ladies at that time, even widows.
Annie Fuller runs a boarding house in San Francisco. It doesn’t make much; but it is a roof over her head and the heads of several of her friends. To make her money go further, she acts as Madam Sibyl, a clairvoyant. She was brou
Sue  Pilski
Apr 25, 2015 Sue Pilski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
The perfect cozy mystery!

This book was a terrific find and I would definitely recommend it for those who are looking for a cozy mystery! M. Louisa Locke did an excellent job of weaving in details, and creating a very believable and factual historical ambiance. In my opinion, this book was very well written. And it really didn't matter if Annie/Lizzie was being helpful to the case. I enjoyed reading about what she was doing and how her relationship with Nate was progressing, and the answer to th
Simone Pond
Apr 29, 2015 Simone Pond rated it it was amazing
I've had this book on my wish list for two years now, ever since I saw Ms. Locke speak at a writer's conference in San Diego. I have the utmost respect for this woman and have followed many of her publishing suggestions. But more importantly, I have a fascination with Victorian clothing and hats, and I lived in San Francisco for five years - so this book was calling my name. I loved the main character so much, I felt like I knew her. And the story was mysterious and fun to try to figure out. I k ...more
Mae Wood
Jan 03, 2015 Mae Wood rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mystery fans, historical fiction fans
This is the first book in a delightful series. I began the series before a trip to San Francisco last fall and finished it up on the flight home. It truly added to my enjoyment in exploring the city. I kept thinking about the history of the places I was standing.

As for the story itself, Annie is the type of heroine I adore. She's bright, funny, and pulls herself up by her bootstraps. She also has a kind heart. And Nate, well, let's just say he may be my absolute favorite "book boyfriend."

I love
Jan 17, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing
Annie Fuller is a widow in late 1870's San Francisco who is making her way by running a boarding house and telling peoples fortunes as Sybil when she finds herself embroiled in the suicide of a well-to-do client. Annie however, does not believe that her client committed suicide and along with his attorney begins an investigation. Both investigations lead in different directions though, as she moves into the Voss household as a servant to spy on his family.

This was a great story with great charac
John Kurtze
May 06, 2015 John Kurtze rated it it was amazing
MAIDS OF MISFORTUNE is a mystery with intrigue and suspense featuring Annie Fuller, Locke’s female protagonist. The entire story is set in the 1870’s in San Francisco. The author’s story will capture anyone who loves a good mystery without all the bells and whistles of today’s high tech detectives. Annie Fuller owns a Victorian home inherited from her aunt. Locke introduces her support characters and their backstories and the roles they play as they enter the storyline.

Annie adds to her income
Jan 05, 2012 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overall rating: 4.75 stars

"Maids of Misfortune" is the first of M. Louisa Locke's Victorian San Francisco mystery series. I read the second volume, "Uneasy Spirits," first. Either book stands just fine on its own.

In this story, widow Annie Fuller is trying to figure out how to manage an unexpected debt incurred by her late husband ... at the same time that one of her clients passes away. Annie leads a double life as "clairvoyant" Madame Sibyl; she dispenses investment advice based on her own bac
Anne Ryan
Oct 16, 2012 Anne Ryan rated it liked it
This is Victorian mystery set in 1879 San Francisco with an atypical and advanced thinking young woman named Annie Fuller as the heroine. In addition to an enjoyable mystery story (I didn't guess "whodunit" until more than half-way through the book), the author provides an interesting commentary on the social mores of the day, especially the plight of women at that time.

Annie appears to be from an upper middle class family, widowed at an early age, and now in financial difficulties. She has mana
Nancy Butts
May 08, 2013 Nancy Butts rated it really liked it
Though I just published an indie book myself [Spontaneous Combustion], I admit I'm dubious about a lot of indie fiction. But based on Locke's website and blog, I took a chance on this book: and I'm glad I did. It is no surprise that it is well-researched, as Locke is a retired college history professor. I loved the 1870s San Francisco setting, and I like the heroine, Annie Fuller. It was a well-written, enjoyable read that combines social history, mystery, a dose of spiritualism, and romance. Th ...more
Deborah Balsham
Sep 25, 2013 Deborah Balsham rated it liked it
I wish that I could give fractions of stars so that I could give this one 3.5. Things got a little slow in parts, but it was a satisfying little murder mystery. The book also touched on some socio-economic realities of the time: police politics, women's places in society, and the lives of the servant class.

The spunky heroine is a very young widow. While widowhood was initially very difficult for her, she was lucky to have been done with a terrible marriage. She had been brought up to think for
What fun! This is the first book in a series (known as A Victorian San Francisco Mystery), and I look forward to reading the next book (Uneasy Spirits).

It's set in 1879, in Victorian San Francisco and involves a widow (who is also a business advisor under the guise of a clairvoyant -- unusual, no?), a young lawyer, and a wealthy businessman who dies. And the death is definitely murder. The widow goes into action to find out who killed him, posing as a maidservant at the businessman's house. The
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
Jan 28, 2012 Jeannie and Louis Rigod rated it really liked it
This debut novel set in the later 1800's of San Francisco, CA is very well researched historical fiction mystery.

For women, throughout history, times are difficult to maintain your own household, even if you are a respectable, hard-working widow. It is 1879 and widow, Annie Fuller is barely making ends meet by inheriting her Aunt's home which she promptly converted into a boarding house. For extra money, the entire house backs Annie's decision to become "Madam Sibyl" a clairvoyant that can aid p
Norma Huss
Sep 02, 2012 Norma Huss rated it it was amazing
This excellent historical mystery takes place in 1879 San Francisco. A young widow supports herself as boarding house owner Annie Fuller, and as psychic Sibyl who gives personaly and financial advice to clients who will accept such as coming from the stars, when they wouldn't had they known her real identity. When one of her clients dies, supposedly by suicide, she knows his finances weren't in the shambles the police claim. When the police realize it was murder, they look to his family. Annie p ...more
Mar 14, 2015 Caryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-books
"Maids of Misfortune" was a delightful surprise. When Annie role of the clairvoyant, Sybyll, began it was rather unbelievable and when she then decided to pose as a maid in her friend/acquaintance, Matthew Voss's, home I was afraid the unrealistic nature of the whole story would be furthered and a good read would be lost. However, that did not happen. Her budding romance with Voss's attorney was told in a very probable manner and did not allow her any unacceptable license as they began to work t ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #25 - Maids of Misfortune 1 2 Feb 27, 2015 10:03AM  
Did you read/like the short story, Dandy Detects 3 17 Aug 08, 2011 05:41AM  
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After being a professor of history for over 30 years, I am now retired and writing full time. The books in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, are based in part on my dissertation research on women who worked in the Far West at the end of the Nineteenth Century, and they feature Annie Fuller, a young widow who gives domestic and business advice as the clairvoyant, Madam Sibyl. She is aided ...more
More about M. Louisa Locke...

Other Books in the Series

A Victorian San Francisco Mystery (5 books)
  • Uneasy Spirits (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #2)
  • Bloody Lessons (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #3)
  • Deadly Proof (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #4)
  • Pilfered Promises (A Victorian San Francisco Mysteries, #5)

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