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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 , 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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