Sarah Woolson has always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. The trouble is that, in 1880, everyone believes a woman belongs in the home, married and taking care of babies. Using her brains and a little bit of subterfuge, Sarah somehow manages to finagle her way into one of the city's most prestigious law firms, becoming an associate attorney and acquiring her very first client, a lovely young society matron accused of brutally stabbing to death her wealthy but abusive husband. Sarah's sure of her client's innocence, but with the discovery of her secret lover, it becomes nearly impossible to prove.
When four more victims fall prey to the killer's knife, Sarah fears she's bitten off more than she can chew. Bucking her boorish employer, the judicial system, and the very people who should have been on her side, Sarah finds herself embroiled in shady legal maneuvers, a daring Chinatown raid, a secret and very scandalous sex club, and the most powerful and dangerous tong lord in the city's Chinese District.
©2004 Shirley Tallman; (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks
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This is a delightful book. While I usually like more contemporary settings for my mysteries, having this book set in a "more civilized" time was really enjoyable. Sarah Woolson is a woman before her time, aspiring to a man's job in a man's world. It's a reminder that there was a time when "women's rights" were a novelty. Thankfully, the author avoided stereotypically portraying the men as stupid and the women as strong and all knowing. Indeed, the characters are believable and well distinguished. The plot is nicely paced and nothing important is given away before its time. Best of all, Anna Fields is in top form. She reads this with great enthusiasm and sounds like she really enjoyed herself. Her characterizations are phenomenal!
Originally, I bought this book just to listen to Anna Fields voice again. She always made ANYthing she narrated an delightful story.
I was not disappointed.
This book is well written and the narration is spot on.
The characters are smart, the mystery solution is not obvious and the characters have to think outside the constraints of societal norms. Lots of interesting historical detail.
"Extremely well written"
I have to admit, I only bought this book because Anna Fields was the narrator. I fell in love with her voice listening to the Susan Elizabeth Phillips books and have missed hearing her too-soon-silenced voice. I spotted this one and found not only did Anna Fields do her usual superb reading, but I discovered an author that I would continue to listen to. I am now getting the second in the series and feel sure that it will be just as wonderful as this one. I loved the characters and the fact that it was nearly impossible to figure out the culprit until the end....Well Done!!!
"Great story, a pity the sequel isn't available"
A really well written story, with brilliant narration. I've been searching for the sequel in audiobook as it isn't available from Audible here in Australia. In the end I had to borrow the rest in book format from the library. Still a great read but not the same experience as listening to it.
With a push you could possibly compare it to the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters, except rather than a female archaeologist in a man's world, the story focusses on a female attorney in a man's world.
I've listened to many of Anna Fields' performances, and this is what led me to discover this series. It's always interesting when you've heard the same narrator read multiple books as you being to recognise voices from a character in a different book appearing in a totally unrelated one. An excellent narrator, it is so sad that she is no longer with us.
Sarah, who is the main character is certainly the most memorable.
"Great Series, Sarah Woolson is wonderful"
I listened to the first 3 books and have just finished reading the fourth (which I hope will be available on Audible soon). If you like historical fiction/ mysteries you will enjoy these books.
Unlike a previous reviewer I find the main character Sarah W. interesting and full of pluck. These stories are set in the 1880's 40 years before women won the right to vote and therefore, I find Shirley Tallman's male characters and their sexism and racism to be perfectly believable and Sarah's frustration with her society and the men who control it to be reasonable. The author has several important male characters who are neither sexist nor racist so she does not generalize about all men. It is clear that the author has done her research on the role of women in the 1880's and in the legal profession. It is hard to believe but some law schools such as Harvard did not admit women until the 1950's.
The mysteries are good but I enjoy the books because of the characters. I think if you enjoy Elizabeth Peters you would also enjoy this series. I hope there will be many more books in this series and that the love story will become even more central and lead to further growth for the character of Sarah.
Anna Fields was a great narrator and will be missed.
Love the main character and the descriptions of San Francisco in the late 19th Century. But having a major plot point be a sex club located in a church basement -- how did that location get authorized, and what happens during Sunday School? -- strained the suspension of my disbelief. But I'm willing to put this down as debut-novel-itis and try the next one.
"Terriffic, Fun, Well written...."
What a treat. I love good dialog and great language. Add to that a well constructed mystery and you've got some great entertainment. Then there's Anna Fields, the narrator. Ms. Fields is talented at creating the characters voices, both male and female. I've found myself searching for books where she is the reader. I'm now listening to the Russian Hill Murders by Tallman. The only bad news is that the next Sara Woolson hasn't been written yet.
"Easy to follow"
Easy follow decent story
Sure, it was recommended to me by a friend
Maybe but not really on the big screen...perhaps made for TV movie
This book had been well recommended, and I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to hang in there with it. I'm about half finished, and would drop it if my "I paid for it so I'll finish it" mentality would let me. The protagonist is preachy and self-righteous. I can't decide if her total lack of charm is due to the writing or the narration, but Sarah Woolsen is an arrogant man-hating prig. And actually, only a couple women receive the Sarah Woolsen Seal of Approval. The rest are too weak, colorless, and submissive, in her estimation. Most of he men, so far, are portrayed as boorish or boring. (Honestly, men aren't really all that bad! Some of them are downright wonderful!!) Yes, this was before suffrage, etc., but does it have to be hammered home over and over again in such a forthright "up on a soap-box fashion"? Constant interjections of moral/social pronouncements are artificlal, reeking of "holier-than-thou" attitude.
If you are a listener with an agenda similar to Sarah Woolsen's you'll love this book. It will give you lots of chances to stand up, cheer, reach for the nearest meat cleaver, and poise yourself to implant it in the head of the first man who walks by...poor unfortunate soul. If you are seeking a "cozy" mystery with a charming quality, look elsewhere.
The Narration is labored. The narrator tries hard to do all the men's voices, but honestly, a more straightforward style would be preferable. After a little while, the male voices all sound the same. Instead of adding to the story, it gets to be a huge distraction. And the narrator's inflections make Sarah that much more unlikeable.
I realize my review is not politically correct, but I would rather hear a great story than be PC. It is not my desire to be a downer, but Sarah started it first!
Only 4 more hours to go...Sigh
If you are tired of intense and complicated storylines this is an easy listen. Good introduction to a new character, with several other significant characters that can be developed in future books. As I said though, a light story.
Needs a more distinct voice for the various characters. Narrates as the main character well.
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