“Multiple murders and a maltreated mistress are all in a day’s work for 19th-century San Francisco attorney Sarah Woolson. Sarah is that rara avis in 1881, an unmarried professional woman. Her brother Samuel, a crime reporter who writes under an assumed name in order to conceal his job from their judge father, is covering a case that claims her attention. When several respected members of the community are murdered in the Woolsons’ Rincon Hill neighborhood, the police arrest some young Chinese men. Under the auspices of powerful Tong leader Li Ying, for whom she has previously worked, Sarah takes their case. At the same time, she seeks justice for lovely Brielle Bouchard, mistress of holier-than-thou publisher Gerald Knight, who casts her off when she bears his child. Bigotry against the Chinese population makes her criminal case difficult for Sarah. And she’s puzzled by her feelings for handsome shipping-company owner Pierce Godfrey, who’s asked her to marry him, and the fresh romantic overtures of her friend and colleague Robert Campbell. To top it all off, she gets involved in promoting a career for lovely and talented singer Melody Tremaine, whose parents are appalled at the thought. When her projects turn out to be intertwined in complex ways, she finds herself fighting for both justice and her reputation. Sarah’s fourth (The Cliff House Strangler, 2007, etc.) neatly marries mystery, romance and historic San Francisco in an enjoyable tale of the stubbornly independent career woman.”
It is 1881, and Sarah Woolson (The Cliff House Strangler) struggles to keep her law practice afloat by finding bits and pieces of work where she can. A murder takes place a few blocks from her home on Rincon Hill in San Francisco. Another murder and the arrest of two young Chinese men who have just arrived in the States finds Sarah acting as their attorney. VERDICT Anti-Chinese prejudice and the plight of young women from good families who are encouraged or bullied into marriage are themes explored in Tallman's fourth series historical, which also brings the charming city of San Francisco to life. For readers who like Rhys Bowen's historicals.
.”…a solid read. Idealistic and iconoclastic attorney Sarah Woolson investigates the bludgeoning murder of botanist Nigel Logan, who was at a party with Woolson’s judge father only the night before and whose body was found near the Woolson home. Several days later, a friend of Logan’s, a church deacon, apparently falls victim to the same killer. When the police latch onto some Chinese immigrants as the culprits, despite the absence of any real evidence, Woolson bravely takes on their defense. Convincing period detail supports an engaging lead who’s a more plausible character than, say, Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy, a PI in early 20th-century New York City. The romantic subplots don’t overwhelm the mystery…”
Night Owl Reviews:
“Sarah Woolson is a female attorney in San Francisco. Her uniqueness lies in the fact that she is practicing (or trying to) during the 19th century in a society that maintains the belief that young women should have finding a husband and raising a family as their primary goal. Shirley Tallman's Scandal on Rincon Hill describes Sarah's unconventional approach to society and her active involvement with solving murders and championing the underdog. Several aspects of Victorian society are highlighted, including the radical ideas of Charles Darwin whose theories about natural selection cause an uproar with various theologians and their followers.
A brutal murder near the Woolson residence attracts both Sarah and her brother Samuel to the scene of the crime, he to gather information for his secret job as a newspaper crime reporter. A second vicious murder occurs in the same vicinity and seems related to the first because both victims attended the same dinner party, as did several older members of the Woolson family. Rising hysteria leads to the unjust incarceration of two newly immigrated Chinese and Sarah feels compelled to flout convention by consulting with her previous contact Li Ying, leader of one of the most notorious tongs in the city, and offering her services as legal counsel. She decides her best defense will be to solve the murders and avoid a lynching. Sarah also feels compelled to become involved when the beautiful young scorned mistress of a prominent newspaper owner attempts to attain justice for herself and her newborn child.
This novel offers fascinating glimpses of San Francisco during the 1880s featuring Chinatown's beginnings, widespread discrimination against women and foreigners and the struggles two intelligent siblings face while refusing to be typecast in their roles during these times. Somewhat reminiscent of the Francesca Cahill mysteries with another intrepid heroine who is willing to defy convention despite her conventional family. Sarah also has two successful suitors who loathe each other but are fascinated by her individuality and independence even as they seek to shackle her into a conventional relationship. An enjoyable period mystery leavened with plenty of historical tidbits.” When her projects turn out to be intertwined in complex ways, she finds herself fighting for both justice and her reputation.”
Harriet Klausner: Amazon’s #1 Reviewer
SUPERB SAN FRANCISCO VICTORIAN TALE *****
“In the year of our Lord 1881 in San Francisco someone stabs to death botanist Nigel Logan. The corpse is found on Rincon Hill, a couple blocks from the Woolson family home. Adding to the connection is that the night before the homicide, Nigel and Judge Horace T. Woolson attended the same party.
SFPD Police Sergeant George Lewis accompanied by the Judge's son crime reporter Samuel investigate. Also looking into the murder is the Judge's other offspring Sarah the attorney. A few days later, Logan's friend Deacon Hume is killed; seemingly by the same culprit. The police arrest Chinese immigrants as the case is going nowhere so they need suspects even if there is not one drop of evidence. Sarah defends the Asians although many on Rincon Hill including a predator want her to lose the case.
The latest Woolson historical mystery is a superb San Francisco Victorian tale (see The Cliff House Strangler) that is a great period piece legal thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment George wakes up Sarah by tossing pebbles at her window and never slows down. Although the climax can be seen from the top of Nob Hill to the Tenderloin, fans will enjoy this exhilarating Americana novel.” Five star review!
Carolyn R. Scheidies: Reviewer/Author/Speaker
"SCANDAL ON RINCON HILL ISBN 978-0-312-38697-9, St. Martin's Press, is the fourth Sara Woolson mystery by Shirley Tallman. The mysteries take place in 19th Century California, not the most welcoming place for a woman lawyer.
In SCANDAL ON RINCON HILL it has happened again. Sara Woolson is caught up in murder. As a woman lawyer in 19th Century San Francisco, Sara has trouble just getting enough paying clients without getting caught up in mysteries she can't solve and with clients she can't seem to help due to the prevailing cultural and police prejudices.
When just before Christmas in 1881, Sergeant George Lewis of the San Francisco police force wakes Sara up in the middle of the night in order to contact her brother, a reporter, Sara Woolson wants to know why. When Woolson discovers there has been a murder just blocks from their home on Rincon Hill, Sara knows she must accompany her brother Samuel and Sergeant Lewis to the scene.
An eye witness claims to have seem someone leaving the gruesome scene. Robbery doesn't seem to be the motive. Could the victim's defense of Darwin's theory be a reason? Could the murderer be among the high society guests of the party the victim attended, along with Sara Woolson's own parents, the evening before?
With few clues and a police force that would rather blame the murder on a chance happening, Sara Woolson has little to go on even with her brother Samuel's assistance. When murder happens again, Sara finds herself defending two innocent immigrants from China Town. Sara Woolson realizes without finding the true killer on the loose, her clients have no chance. Even when her reputation and life is on the line, Sara Woolson seeks the truth.
But can even she turn in the murderer once he or she is uncovered?
Add in a case of a young woman seeking help on a very unusual contract and two men vying her favor, and Sara Woolson finds herself trying to untangle not only the SCANDAL ON RINCON HILL but also threads of her personal life and goals. Will she stand by her heart's desire to be a lawyer and pave the way for other women to come after her, or will the desire for hearth and home prove too strong?
SCANDAL ON RINCON HILL by Shirley Tallman captures the essence of 19th Century San Francisco and the hurdles women had to overcome to have a job other than wife, teacher, nanny or prostitute. The reader of Tallman's Woolson's mysteries are drawn into the time period and into the lives of Sara and the Woolson family.
After SCANDAL ON RINCON HILL I can't help but wonder what's up next for the courageous lawyer.”
Love To Read Mysteries: Barnes & Noble Review
TERRIFIC SAN FRANCISCO HISTORICAL WHODUNIT! *****
“I was fortunate to obtain an advanced copy of SCANDAL ON RINCON HILL to preview, and I'm happy to say that I loved every word of it! Tallman just seems to get better and better with each new book in the Sarah Woolson series. This time a body is found close to Sarah's Rincon Hill home, and she and her brother Samuel sneak out of their house in the middle of the night to view the scene of the crime for themselves. When a second body is discovered in the same quiet neighborhood just a few days later, San Francisco goes into a panic thinking a serial killer is on the loose. Not only was the mystery fast paced and compelling, but I loved the way Tallman gave us a peek inside the city's high class brothels -- the scene where Robert Campbell is ogled by a number of scantily-clad "ladies of the night", is hysterical! I also appreciated visiting San Francisco's theater district, it must have been a lot of fun. I loved seeing the wonderful character of Pierce Godfrey make an appearance again, even if poor Robert isn't at all amused. All in all, a wonderful, exciting read. The problem with Tallman's books, however, is that I don't want to put them down once I've started. So, a friendly warning: don't start one right before you go to bed. I highly recommend SCANDAL ON RINCON HILL!” Five star review!