Guest- Nancy Herriman and a Giveaway!

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the crocuses are blooming!

I am so delighted to welcome Nancy Herriman to the blog today! We’ve known each other for a few years and are both members of The Sleuths in Time. Nancy writes historical mysteries that are intriguing and immersive. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of her Old San Francisco Mysteries. Take it away, Nancy!

First off, thanks to the Wickeds for having me back on their blog. This time, to celebrate the release of Book 6 in my A Mystery of Old San Francisco series, No Justice for the Deceived!

The field of medicine fascinates me, and I regularly feature medical people in my books. So, unsurprisingly, when it came time to develop the idea for a mystery series set in 1860s San Francisco, I gravitated toward my sleuth being a nurse. A woman whose occupation would regularly expose her to death and who might also recognize the signs of when a passing is not so natural. 

In 1867, when my A Mystery of Old San Francisco series opens, numerous women worked in the field. They primarily were midwives and nurses, but a handful operated as self-styled physicians utilizing spiritual or water ‘cures.’ Even for those women offering traditional care, the training would have been sparse, the medical professions still ruled by men resisting the attempts of females to invade their territory. 

Furthermore, nursing as an occupation was considered unsuitable for gently-raised women. Then again, most occupations were considered unsuitable for gently-raised women! Even through much of the American Civil War, nursing duties consisted primarily of women providing ‘female companionship.’ Viewed as fragile and possessing an inferior intellect, female nurses were generally restricted to simple chores–preparing and serving meals, bathing feverish foreheads, reading to the patients or writing letters for them. Any tasks resembling what we consider today to be the jobs of nurses were mostly left to male orderlies and doctors.

Change was underway, though. In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman in America to obtain a degree in medicine. Then, in 1850, the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania opened. Later, in 1861, the school’s role expanded to include the training of nurses, and it is at this school that my fictional sleuth, Celia Davies, receives her education.

Celia will put that education to good use when she opens a free clinic in San Francisco treating women of limited means. But when one of her patients dies suspiciously, Celia gets caught up in the world of crime detection. Trained to carefully observe and draw conclusions, she finds, much to her surprise, that that she is skilled at it. Much to the chagrin of one of the city’s police detectives, Nick Greaves. Soon they are collaborating on other cases, including the sudden death of a servant at a fancy masquerade ball being held in one of the finest parts of San Francisco.

I’m curious — what do you think of the use of nurses as sleuths? Do you enjoy mystery series that feature nurses or other medical professionals as sleuths? If not, why not?

A bit about No Justice for the Deceived:

At an opulent masquerade ball no one is who theyre pretending to be, but when the affair ends in death, Celia and Nick will have to unmask a killer . . .

Word of an upcoming engagement that will join two prominent families has tongues wagging among San Francisco society, but Celia worries the bride-to-be may be making a serious mistake. Her intended, a controlling man and a known womanizer, has recently been linked to a violent attack on a former mistress. When a hapless maid is poisoned at the party where the engagement was to be announced, Celia discovers that the fiancé was the intended victim.

Detective Nick Greaves is called to the scene to investigate the grim death and finds once again that Celia has already unearthed valuable clues. Working together to track down the would-be murderer, they soon determine that any number of people had reason to do away with the man. And when another young woman is found dead, Celia realizes that cornering the killer may expose a cruel truth at the heart of a wealthy family’s deceptions.


Nancy Herriman has fronted a cover band, acted on stage, and been employed 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.” When not writing, she enjoys singing, gabbing about writing, and eating dark chocolate. Find more at

Giveaway — a signed copy of any one of Books 1 through 5 in her Mystery of Old San Francisco series

54 Thoughts

  1. Nancy, congrats on your upcoming book release. I think those in medical professions add another insight when sleuthing.

  2. I’m excited for a new book from you, Nancy! I’m so glad you are still writing them.

    I like reading about the medical professions in mysteries. I started way back with Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, and obviously write about a historical midwife. But except for your Celia and Victoria Thompson’s midwife Sarah Brandt, I’m not sure I read any other series with a nurse or doctor. Are there some I’m missing?

    1. Great question, Edith. Maybe the folks commenting here will give us some names!

  3. I’ve never read a book with a nurse as a sleuth but I think I would enjoy it. I love reading about old San Francisco. This is a new to me series. Thank you so much for a chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  4. I find it very interesting to add the medical view of a mystery. It would have finding clues and following them in a completely different view most times – shaking it up so to speak. For it to be during the time that women were breaking into the field sounds really unique and definitely peaks my interest to another level. I can’t imagine a time when women were like children – seen but not heard.

    “No Justice for the Deceived” sounds absolutely amazing and a wonderful addition to the series. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of one of your books!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Nurses would make great sleuths! They regularly look for clues in their patient’s medical condition, asking pertinent questions, digging into what might be wrong, and lots of poking and prodding! Plus, they have the advantage of being already considered trustworthy and empathetic but able to separate their emotions from the situation. I think clients would like that!

    This sounds like a great book!

    1. You make a great point about them being considered trustworthy, which is certainly one reason folks come to Celia for help

  6. Nurses make great sleuths! They are observant, intelligent, caring, good conversationalists, and can recognize the truth in a heartbeat, to name just a few attributes. The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear features a WWI nurse protagonist and of course, Edith Maxwell’s historical Quaker Midwife series would be included in this category. But there are others and a quick google found this link My interest is piqued now to read your work, Nancy Herriman. By the way, did I mention I am a recently retired Registered Nurse of 45 years who actually taught nursing histor?. 😉
    Good times. Thanks for the blogpost.

  7. I think nurses make great sleuths. They are observant, detail oriented, and generally get to go places the public can’t.

    Congrats on the new book!

  8. Medicals as sleuths makes sense, since they are trained to notice minute signs that might point to a different diagnosis. I prefer nurses because no one ever listens to them, which makes for suspense and conflict. I know nothing about the profession but I’ll never forget the nurse who discreetly rolled her eyes when my doctor told me what was wrong. So I looked further, and she was right!

  9. Welcome to the Wickeds, Nancy! I think medical people make great sleuths, whether in traditional mysteries or in “medical mysteries,” like House or those columns in the Washington Post about figuring out a difficult diagnosis.

  10. Medical professionals of all stripes make great sleuths – and villains! Congratulations on your latest release. It’s always fun to visit 1860s-70s San Francisco!

  11. I love the idea of a nurse as an amateur sleuth. However, I wonder just how much time she would have to investigate. I doubt they worked the kind of hours or did the kind of heavy lifting (literally) that nurses do now, still they would be very busy. I hope to win your first book so I can see how this can be done!

    1. She is very busy. I suppose it’s helpful she has Detective Greaves and others to help her collect clues! 🙂

  12. I really enjoy mysteries that feature medical professionals. I think that medicine is a different type of detection. And I think a nurse would make an excellent amateur sleuth. Thank you for the giveaway!

  13. I definitely enjoy mysteries with medical sleuths, like your series and Christine Trent’s books featuring Florence Nightingale. Looking forward to reading the new book!

  14. Congrats on book six! I enjoy mysteries with medical sleuths. I should probably read more of them. (Yes, please enter me in the giveaway.)

  15. I don’t believe I have ever read a mystery with a medical sleuth, but I am sure that I would love it!

  16. I enjoy reading historical Mysteries and I also like reading about San Francisco. Sounds like a book.I would really enjoy reading.

    1. I have never read a book with a nurse as a sleuth. Sounds interesting! Your books sounds so good! Thanks so much for the chance!

  17. i do enjoy mysteries which medical sleuths so i will be checking out this series.

  18. I do enjoy historical mysteries, and Nancy Harriman is new to me. I look forward to reading her books.

  19. Medical professionals make great sleuths. I enjoyed reading the first four books – the fifth and sixth books are on my list.

  20. I have not read a mystery with a nurse as the sleuth. Sound like I need to remedy that. Congratulations on your new release!

  21. I have never read a book with a nurse as a sleuth. I enjoyed Diagnosis Murder while it was on television. I think I would enjoy a nurse being a sleuth. In many ways, her job as a nurse makes her a sleuth when it comes to symptoms to report to the doctor. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  22. I’m not sure how I missed this historical mystery series. I can’t remember a nurse as the amateur sleuth in any of my reading. I know the tv abounds with Doctors as the sleuth. I look forward to starting this series.

  23. I would love to read your books. I lived in San Francisco for many years so I would enjoy them.

  24. Congratulations on the new book. I haven’t read much historical fiction but your series sounds really good. I will have to give it a try. I work in pharmacy so something medical related and mysterious gets my attention. Thank you for sharing.

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