Guest Nancy Herriman and a Giveaway!

Congratulations, Dianne Casey, you are the winner! We will be in touch to coordinate your prize!

Jessie: At the coast of Maine on a writing retreat with a dear friend

Nancy Herriman is one of those writers who are just fabulous at setting a scene and transporting readers to another place and time. I have had the pleasure of getting to know her better over the last few years on the Sleuths in Time group on Facebook as well as at some in-person events. It is my great pleasure to welcome her here today to talk about her work and to give you all the chance to peek at the gorgeous cover of her latest release! She is offering a signed copy of any one of her San Francisco books, including her most recent release, NO REFUGE FROM THE GRAVE to one lucky commenter. Take it away, Nancy!

In the mysteries that you read, do you find that certain locations are tailor-made for murder? Where I went to college, there was an old gabled house just off campus painted completely black. A strange and hair-raising place, especially at night, but what a great setting for a horror movie! I think lonely cabins located deep in impenetrable woods are ideal, too. Or busy large cities where everyone is a stranger. Even a bucolic village can hide dangerous secrets behind pretty flower gardens and cheery front porches, right?

So why did I pick 19th-century San Francisco as the setting for my mysteries? I don’t have a personal connection to the city, aside from having visited it many times. But it certainly is a large, bustling metropolis with an intriguing—and very colorful—past. It’s the city where Mark Twain made his name and Levi Strauss became famous. Just two of the thousands of people who’d streamed into California to ‘strike it rich’ during the Gold Rush. When they succeeded—or failed—they often ended up in the ‘Golden City’ rather than return to wherever they’d come from.

By the 1860s, when my books are set, the growing city boasted imposing buildings, fancy theaters, city parks, and a host of museums and fine restaurants. But alongside the fine buildings stood saloons and brothels, ramshackle hotels for men desperate to make a buck, and dark side streets housing gambling dens and worse. Each day, the boats docking at the wharves unloaded more new arrivals to rub alongside those already struggling to make a living in the city. A perfect time and place for murder, don’t you think?

I’ve made use of a variety of locations, some rather creepy. An insane asylum, for instance. The back alleyways of Chinatown and the notorious Barbary Coast. The interior of a Roman-Turkish bath house (men only!). A variety of saloons, some rougher and seedier than others. A facility where a person can receive the ‘water cure’ or, unfortunately, end up robbed or dead. The musty confines of a partly abandoned warehouse. Darkened houses that may or may not be occupied when my sleuth has decided to break in and snoop around. In my recent release, No Refuge from the Grave, I step inside a gymnasium where men learn the art of fencing and boxing, skills that might come in handy if they’re looking to commit a crime.

So readers, tell me—which settings have you most enjoyed in the mystery books that you’ve read? Are there any you’d like to see that you feel haven’t been used often enough?

Book 5 in the Mystery of Old San Francisco series once again pairs nurse Celia Davies and Detective Nicholas Greaves, who discover that sometimes the past refuses to stay buried.

When yet another fire destroys a struggling business in the heart of San Francisco, Detective Nick Greaves is fairly certain they’ve got an arsonist on their hands and that lucrative insurance claims are the motive. But before he can act on his suspicions, Celia Davies alerts him that she has discovered the dead body of a notorious loan shark, murdered and left on the doorstep of the very insurance agent Nick suspected of fraud. An agent whose wife has only recently hired Celia to retrieve a stolen locket, accusing an old rival of being the thief.

As she and Nick pursue their few murky leads, they discover a shadowy network that counts some of San Francisco’s most prominent businessmen as members. And when a policeman at the center of it all is found dead, Celia and Nick must sort through the ashes of a conspiracy to bring down a ruthless killer.


Nancy Herriman has fronted a bar band, acted on stage, and worked in the tech industry as an engineer. Writing is her current and most long-lasting passion. Her work has won the Daphne du Maurier Award, and Publishers Weekly says her ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series “…brings 1867 San Francisco to vivid life.” After two decades in Arizona, she now lives in her home state of Ohio.

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43 Thoughts

  1. I like reading about New Orleans and it’s history, the good and the bad and the mysterious. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  2. Your San Francisco setting is enticing and especially the time period. I also enjoy the historical mysteries set in England, Ireland and Scotland. Thank you for your wonderful books and the chance to escape.

  3. I’m not sure what particular setting might not have been used enough. Given the wide range of offerings these days, pretty much every kind of setting gets it share of the mystery spotlight.

    It’s more a matter of using that setting in such a way that readers can’t wait to take another trip to visit the time, place and characters that populate a particular series.

    I enjoy books that are set in Ireland, though I’d probably say that I prefer them set in the modern-day setting. Oddly enough, I also enjoy books set during World War II a lot as well.

  4. I enjoy lots of different settings, mostly near the coast. England, Ireland and Scotland are fun with their history. I haven’t read any in Egypt or Rome or Greece, lots of history there to explore!

    1. A couple of my favorite mystery series are set in ancient Rome. I’m not sure there are any set in Egypt or Greece, though. I’d love to hear about them, if there are

  5. For me, it’s a placer no one would suspect as having a sinister side. Second would be a completely different twist of a place that you automatically think “Yep, that’s the place!”. Guess what I’m saying it that it’s not only the place, but how the author writes the story into it. It needs to be a perfect fit to make the story fresh and believable. As long as it’s true to the time period, I love stories in all eras. After all, crime and death don’t have a stamp on just one time period. 🙂

    “NO REFUGE FROM THE GRAVE” is on my TBR list and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it. Thank you for the chance to win a copy to read and review. LOVE the cover which would definitely have me picking up the book for a closer look.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Congratulations, Nancy. I love any setting, really. But can anyone think of a mystery set in Australia or New Zealand? I’m coming up blank.

    1. Aside from Miss Fisher, I don’t know of any others. But there should be dozens, given all the writers down there. Time to do a little research and find out!!

  7. Welcome to the Wickeds, Nancy! Weirdly enough, the novella I just turned in to my editor has a character who went out to California for the gold rush and has just returned to Maine in 1867. We never get to see him actually in San Francisco, though.

    1. What a coincidence that you set it in the same year! A very interesting time in the city (although there are lots of interesting years in SF). And thanks for the welcome!

  8. I enjoy all types of settings. I don’t think I’ve read any in Egypt or Rome yet. Australia is another good one. Love your book cover! Thanks for the chance!!

  9. As a California native, I’m always happy to see California used as a setting. (Yes, please enter me in this giveaway.)

  10. I like books set in historical locations as well as small town locations. I also like books set during a specific era like the Victorian era, the Antebellum era, the Gilded Age. It’s interesting to see how people lived back then.

    1. Which is one reason I really enjoy writing about those periods–trying to understand and recreate their lives, just a little, is intriguing and fun

  11. I have to say that I have not found a setting that I have not liked. The authors make the settings come alive so I feel like I am right there with the characters. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. I love New Orleans due to its history, culture and food. It is a setting used in books that I don’t get tired of.

  13. There are certain areas that I love like San Francisco, New Orleans and Key West. Luckily there are many set in these areas, though not enough. But I would like anything set in Texas, Mexico and Savannah, Georgia.

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