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

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3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  1,787 ratings  ·  268 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 (first published 2009)
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C.M. Donaldson (aka Pearl Barley)
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
Norain
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
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
...more
Erin
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
...more
Barb
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
...more
Renee
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
...more
Loretta
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
Marla
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
...more
Wealhtheow
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
Kristin
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
Sharon
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
...more
Anne Ryan
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
...more
Nancy Butts
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
Abigail Padgett
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!

While
...more
Deborah Balsham
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
...more
Dropspun
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
...more
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
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
...more
Norma Huss
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
JoAnn Bassett
This is a charming, entertaining story with great characters and lots of historical tidbits that I really enjoyed. It begins with widow Annie Fuller learning that she might lose her only asset--a boarding house in San Francisco that was left to her by her aunt. You're rooting for Annie from page one. Then, a friend of hers dies and the circumstances surrounding his death are pretty murky. Annie shows her true mettle by doing whatever is necessary (and that's a lot in this instance) to find out h ...more
Kristy
I absolutely LOVED this book. Hands down my favorite read, thus far, of 2012. It was a wonderful mix of mystery & 'Old World' charm. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the main character, Annie Fuller. She was smart, brave, feminine & yet forceful enough to stand her ground when men tried to disuade her from her plan of action. I especially loved that this was set in the late 1800's, though I'm not sure why the Victorian setting drew me in so much. The language was clear & not flow ...more
Katie
I would not have finished this book if not for sheer stubbornness and because I hoped it would really highlight San Francisco -- it didn't. Annie, the main character, proclaims her intelligence and female independence at every opportunity but fails to make intelligent decisions and somehow manages to address every male she encounters with a breathy "Oh, Nate," or "Oh, Wong" -- as do most female characters, save one "old" and "bitter" spinster. The plot is riddled with holes, but they're often ha ...more
Debbie Young
I lapped up this pacy mystery featuring a feisty young Victorian widow who doesn't let herself be bound by convention and social pressure. The murder mystery at the heart of the book was an interesting one, but what made this book shine for me was the amount of historical and social detail woven into the text, spelling out clearly how restricted women of that era were - and how lucky I am to be living now rather than then!

The other characters were also well defined, from the lodgers in her boar
...more
Grace
I had this book sitting on my Kindle and just started reading it one day (I love getting free ebooks from amazon, however I never find time to read them all)! I was pleasantly surprised!

I think this is one of the few historical novels that I really enjoyed. The main Character was spunky and took matters into her own hands! You won't believe some of the whims she follows!

Great read, I look forward to the rest of the series!
Phyllis
I really enjoyed this book. Written by a retired history professor, Maids of Misfortune is the first in a new mystery series of books that take place in San Francisco in the Victorian Age. The writing is first rate, the characters are appealing and very vividly drawn, and the story is thoroughly engaging. I already started reading book two in the series, Uneasy Spirits. Very Highly recommended.
Patricia
What an enjoyable mystery. I really enjoyed this cozy mystery for so many reasons. There is definitely a solid cast of characters, and Annie Fuller is such a strong, determined woman that you can't help but like her. After losing her husband to suicide she has found a way to survive and even thrive in a difficult time when women were not taken seriously. After inheriting a large house, Annie decides to take in boarders and then supplements her income by posing as a clairvoyant, Sybil. Using the ...more
Ashley Vail
Mar 31, 2012 Ashley Vail rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Ashley by: No one
This is an amazing book set in Victorian San Francisco. It stars a young widow named Annie that runs a boarding house and has a side job as a Clairvoyant. She and her friends solve a mystery involving one of her clients. It has a wonderful cast of characters and the story will keep you interested long after you put it down. Definitely a must read.
Cel Jel
I enjoyed reading this book, and am glad to have found a new author to read.

The 'detective' is a woman, who provides financial and other advice through a disguise of being a clairvoyant. When one of her customers dies, and it is thought to be a suicide, she decides to investigate. She does not believe he would have committed suicide, and so takes steps to try to convince the police to investigate.
When disappointed with the police activity to investigate the death, she takes matters into her own
...more
Tara Gabor
I have read three of these victorian San Francisco mysteries. I enjoyed every one. The pace is slow, and I read them in small bits, but it felt like a good friend waiting for me at the end of the day that I couldn't wait to catch up with. The chapters are quite small, the characters engaging, the plot intriguing.
The heroine, Annie Fisher, owns and runs a boarding house, but supplements her income by acting as Madam Sybil, dispenser of financial wisdom and common sense. In the nineteenth century
...more
Carlin
This the first book in a delightful mystery series set in 1880s San Francisco. Written by a retired professor of U. S. and Women's History, this story, while a good mystery, details the lives of women, upper, middle and servant class at that time.

I first read the third book in the series, Bloody Lessons, and could not wait to read the first two to learn more about the life of Annie Fuller, a boarding house owner who supplements her meager income by posing as a clairvoyant (Madame Sibyl) giving
...more
Jina Howell-Forbes
I wanted to like this book. The plot was o.k., and the characters were o.k., but ok is not good, so the book was not good enough. Further,the writing was stiff and choppy, and the woman reading the audiobook struggled with the accents. The characters were caricatures of particular types of personalities common to that time period. They just didn't feel like real people. Also, I am tired of stories in which one or both of the people in a relationship is keeping a game-changer secret. Then the car ...more
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3367040
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...
Uneasy Spirits (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery, #2) Dandy Detects (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #1.5) Bloody Lessons (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery, #3) The Misses Moffet Mend a Marriage (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #2.5) Victorian San Francisco Stories

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