Friday, April 22, 2016

Book Review: No Comfort for the Lost by Nancy Herriman (Mystery of Old San Francisco #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting characters, great setting, good mystery
Cons: Plot slows down a few times along the way to the climax
The Bottom Line:
Travel back in town
Mystery in old San Fran
Promising debut

No Need for Comfort – This is an Enjoyable Debut

Since I always say I want to read more historical mysteries, I have actually starting paying more attention to the ones that cross my radar.  That’s why I gave No Comfort for the Lost more than a passing glance.  Couple that with it being set in 1867 San Francisco, and I decided I had to give it a try.  I’m glad I did because it was a good debut.

Celia Davies has served as a nurse in the Crimean War before settling in San Francisco with her husband, a man who has now gone missing.  She has opened a free medical clinic serving any women in need in the city.  Thanks to her young cousin Barbara, who is half Chinese, she can even serve in the Chinese portion of town, which is how Li Sha crosses her path.  This former prostitute has bought her freedom and is trying to make a new life for herself.

Which is why Celia and Barbara are both upset when Li turns up murdered.  With the hate against the Chinese growing, many people aren’t concerned about the murder.  Fortunately, the case crosses the desk of detective Nicholas Greaves, a Civil War vet.  He is determined to find Li’s killer no matter where it leads, and Celia is determined to help.  Was it a random act of violence against a Chinese woman?  Or was there a more sinister motive behind the killing?

The book does a good job of introducing characters and setting as we go along.  There is no data dump, but within the first few chapters, we get the information we need to understand the characters, their background, and how they came to be in San Francisco.  These characters grow as the book progresses, and I really came to like them before the book was over.

That means that the plot gets off to a good start.  We are hardly introduced to the main characters before we get to the murder.  Unfortunately, I did feel like the story dragged a bit at times, but it was never for very long.  Just a slight edit would have picked up the pace overall.  Still, we reach a logical climax; I figured it out just pages before Celia did.

The world of 1867 San Francisco is brought to life in these pages, and it’s easy to get lost in another time and place.  Sadly, it appears some of the issues they were facing then are still issues we need to struggle with today.  It looks like my wish to have an adult conversation about the issues facing our country are too much to hope for.

The narration alternates between Celia and Nick’s points of view.  It’s a great way to open up the story and provide some additional conflict in the path of solving the murder.  And the switches are always easy to follow.

No Comfort for the Lost in the start of a promising new series.  If, like me, you are looking for more historical mysteries, check out this debut.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in hopes I would review it.


  1. I would love to read this as I am from the SF area and since it is #1 going to put on my list.

  2. I don't know about this one for me, but am glad you liked it. I do know a lot of historical fans to pass this along to though.