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Shirley Tallman

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Member Since: Apr, 2007

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Friday, May 11, 2007  10:42:00 PM

by Shirley Tallman

WONDERFUL REVIEWS are coming in for THE CLIFF HOUSE STRANGLER, third book in the exciting Sarah Woolson historical mystery series, which will be released on July 10th!

LIBRARY JOURNAL "starred review!!"
Minotaur: St. Martin's. Jul. 2007. c.320p. ISBN 978-0-312-35756-6. $24.95. M

It is 1881, and San Francisco attorney Sarah Woolson (The Russian Hill Murders) has opened her own law firm (over the wishes of her respectable family). When she and her colleague Robert Campbell attend a seance run by a new medium at the famed Cliff House, a reporter with a habit of digging up dirt on prominent people is strangled.

Sarah is hired to represent the man accused of the crime, but soon there are other murders. Once again bringing Victorian San Francisco to colorful life, Tallman offers an entertaining mystery with an indomitable, independent heroine that will appeal to fans of Anne Perry and Rhys Bowen. This is a series to watch, sure to get better with each succeeding book.


Plucky lawyer Sarah Woolson arrives at rugged Land's End on a dard and stormy night in Tallman's third entertaining and atmospheric 1880s San Francisco whodunit (after 2005's THE RUSSIAN HILL MURDERS). Socialites have gathered at Cliff House for a seance with Madame Karpova, self-proclaimed Russian psychic. She puts on a good show until tell-all columnist Darien Moss decides to spoil the party. Then comes a crash of lightning, the lights go out, and when they come back on, Darien is found garroted with a balalaika string. Sarah, trying to establish herself as San Francisco's first female attorney, turns sleuth with the help of her devoted brother, a crime novelist. Mounting corpses distract Sarah from the miseries of her first client, a single mother whose flight from a drunken husband ...provides a poignant subplot.

Tallman throws in some unexpected twists, keeping the reader guessing to the end.


1881 San Francisco provides the setting for a series of brutal murders.

Sarah Woolson is that rara avis, an attorney with her own practice in an era when women of her class aspire only to a good marriage. With Robert Campbell, a lawyer friend, she attends a seance at Cliff House at the behest of her brother, who hides his job as a reporter from his family. The medium Madame Karpove, her daughter and her brother Dimitry are joined by several local worthies, including a state senator and a police lieutenant. Everyone who decries the dramatic entrance of Darien Moss, a scandal-mongering reporter, becomes a suspect when he's garroted at the seance. When the police arrest Karpova's uncouth brother, she begs Sarah to represent him. Sarah takes the case along with that of a battered wife who wants a divorce and custody of her children. But even Robert thinks Dimitry is guilty.

Soon another seance attendee is murdered, the incarcerated Dimitry is stabbed, Madame Karpova is arrested and Sarah's stuffy senator brother is charged with accepting bribes. Sarah must fight the ingrained prejudice against women as capable thinkers in order to prove her theories, find a killer and unravel a complex scheme.

Tallman's intelligent heroine is a delight.

Romance Junkies Review
Blue Ribbon Rating 1-5 – 4

Sarah Woolson is a woman among women in male-dominated 19th century America. The third installment of the Sarah Woolson Mysteries finds Sarah having recently left the distinguished firm of Shepherd, Shepherd, McNaughton and Hall in favor of establishing her own law firm.

When famous Russian clairvoyant, Madame Karpova, conducts a séance at the Cliff House, a number of society’s elite are in attendance. Among them – a San Francisco state senator, a top-ranking police department official, representatives from San Francisco’s bluest-blooded families, Sarah, and her friend, Robert Campbell.

Just before the séance is to begin, the private party is interrupted by the notorious newspaper columnist, Darien Moss. At the conclusion of the séance, Moss is found strangled in his seat, with the attendees still sitting at the same table within inches of one another.

Intelligent, intriguing, imaginative… THE CLIFF HOUSE STRANGLER is an empowering whodunit that will keep you “on the edge of your seat” guessing until the very end. Sarah, is a heroine for the ages.. -(with) a knack for attracting trouble. But her ability to connect seemingly abstract events in order to uncover the most obscure of truths is so natural a process that the reader will feel like the logical conclusions are their own.

The characters and storylines are engaging, with Sarah’s first-person narrative propelling the reader “into” the story, rather than just sitting on the sidelines watching the episodes unfold.

A review by Carolyn R. Scheidies:

This new book in the Sarah Woolson Mystery series "The Cliff House Strangler" by Shirley Tallman is every bit as well constructed as the earlier books. The characters live and breathe in 19th century San Francisco. You can almost feel the heat, hear the bells, smell the ocean.

In Sara Woolson beats the heart of a woman of passion and determination, willing to make a difference in a world that suffers her ambition but certainly does not embrace it. Sara is that reformer who doesn't have to stop being who she is, or stop being a woman as she seeks to change the perceptions of what a woman is capable of doing-like being a lawyer.

The mystery in "The Cliff House Strangler" is compelling with layer upon layer of twists and turns that keep the reader invested and reading. The ending is surprising, satisfying and well wrapped up.

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 More News about Shirley Tallman
JUNE FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!  - 4/15/2007 3:05:00 PM

The Cliff House Strangler has been chosen as a Mystery Guild July selection - 4/14/2007 8:18:00 PM

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