St. Martin's Jun 2004, 23.95, 304 pp.
In 1880, though females are not accepted as lawyers, twenty-seven years old Sarah Lorraine Woolson, who learned the law from her father, Superior Court Judge for the County of San Francisco, feels capable and ready. She pulls a name game ploy using her brother Samuel, which enables S.L. Woolson to gain entry into the firm of Shepherd, Shepherd, McNaughton and Hall, attorneys-at-law. Then she “steals” a wealthy client Annjennet Hannaford when the distraught widow decries a lack of legal service from the firm's lawyer Mr. Wylde. This presumptuous act forces fuming senior partner Joseph Shepherd to acknowledge Sarah as a junior associate.
Three weeks ago, someone murdered Cornelius, Annjennet's husband of seven years, leaving her as the prime suspect and without assets. Sarah immediately enables her client to obtain money while the estate remains in probate. Not long afterward, the police arrest Annjennet and her lover for the murder. While the law firm believes she is guilty, Sarah follows the money trail of how Hannaford and three partners made a fortune. When the partners are also killed as gruesomely as Hannaford, Sarah continues her inquiries while shaking up the male legal establishment.
MURDER ON NOB HILL is an entertaining historical legal thriller starring a courageous and charming champion. The story line brings to life the sexist glass ceiling that leaves competent females beneath the lowest rung of the food chain while also providing insight into laws such as the Married Woman's Property Act. Sarah is a wonderful protagonist and her firm's appointed shadow Robert, with his “wardrobe” and “courtside manner” problems, adds a touch of romantic frustration to a fine tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner