This is the first book in a mystery series set in San Francisco in the early 1900s. It features Fremont Jones, an independent young woman who leaves home and moves, on her own, across the country in order to avoid being railroaded into a marriage that she doesn't want. She possesses a college education, and she sets herself up in her own business, doing typing work for local businesses.
Things aren't easy, and money is tight, and she feels rather isolated. But she has a kind landlady, and there is a mysterious but attractive lodger residing in her boarding house. She becomes friends with a charming, handsome young lawyer. Then her life grows complicated when a distinguished, elderly Chinese gentleman comes into her office to dictate an important letter, and subsequently dies. It seems the letter was important, but she cannot remember what was in it. And a very strange young man, a writer who idolizes Edgar Allen Poe, leaves her his handwritten manuscript to type up, assuring her that it is all true. His stories are deeply disturbing - and more disturbing still when Fremont discovers that there are indeed kernels of truth in the macabre, Poesque stories.
This is a promising start to a new mystery series. I love Fremont's independent nature and her determination to live her life according to the ideals she's set for herself. She doesn't always make the best choices, but she is young and inexperienced, and she certainly learns from her mistakes. I was sad to learn that there are only six books in this series, and as the most recent one was published nearly ten years ago, I imagine that is all there will be. Still, I look forward to reading the rest of these. Fans of Anne Perry's historical mysteries and Y.S. Lee's Agency series would be sure to enjoy this series as well.
Books in the Fremont Jones series:
1. The Strange Files of Fremont Jones
2. Fire and Fog
3. The Bohemian Murders
4. Emperor Norton's Ghost
5. Death Train to Boston
6. Beacon Street Morning
The Strange Files of Fremont Jones (#1 in the Fremont Jones series) by Dianne Day (Bantam, 1996)
Source: My local public library
Also reviewed at:
Books That I Have Read: "Fun and entertaining read of a woman who is trying to make a life for herself without a man."
Lisons & Dansons: "The elements of the book didn't quite fit together."
LiterariLeigh: "I went ahead and judged the book by it's cover (and great title!) and was rewarded with a delightful and easy read featuring the spirited and independent Fremont Jones."