A Day in the Life with Celia Davies by Nancy Herriman

No Comfort For the LostIn 1860s San Francisco, nurse Celia Davies has just learned that the body of a Chinese woman has been found floating in the bay. The body might belong to one of her patients.

“How long will you be at the police station?” asked Celia’s cousin, seated at the dining room table. Barbara’s face was ashen against the black of her hair.

“Not long,” said Celia, tying the ribbons of her spoon bonnet beneath her chin. “Get back to your sums. The work should distract you.”

Barbara scowled at her mathematics workbook, a teenager unhappy with her older cousin—and guardian—telling her what to do. “I can’t concentrate.”

Their housekeeper looked over from where she’d been dusting the walnut sideboard. At the moment, however, Addie was frozen in place, as if moving might disturb the heavens and cause more unhappiness to rain down.

“Miss Barbara,‘tis best to carry on when awful things happen,” Addie said. “As my father would say, nothing is so difficult but may be overcome with perseverance. And that includes sorrows.”

Barbara sighed loudly over Addie’s Scottish father’s sayings, but picked up her pencil.

Celia checked her reflection in the hallway mirror one final time. “Let us hope I have good news when I return.”

The walk to Portsmouth Square, where the police station was located, was all downhill, and she arrived in moments. Celia paused to stare up at the sandstone-fronted building, gathering her nerve against what she might learn.

Please let it not be Li Sha.

Inside, the entry area was dim and quiet. Signs tacked to the farthest wall indicated the police station was located in the basement with the jail cells.

The downstairs room was jammed with chairs and desks, gas lamps flickering to chase away the gloom. Cigar smoke hung in the air, the source of the smoke hunched over a desk shoved into the farthest corner, his gray policeman’s coat with its black buttons and velvet collar and star thrown over his chair. Though every window was propped open, Celia could hardly breathe for the stench coming from the direction of the jail cells, guarded by a barred door.

At the nearest desk, another policeman glanced up. “Ma’am?”

“I need to speak to someone.” She took a quick breath; the stink made her head swim. “About the Chinese girl discovered dead yesterday.”

“Detective Greaves is busy.”

Detective. If a detective was involved, Li Sha had not met with an accident, as Celia had hoped. Suddenly light-headed, she reached for a nearby chair and collapsed onto it, a mound of crinoline and heavy skirts.

“Let me fetch you some water,” the policeman said, scurrying off through a side door.

She breathed in carefully. She had fainted only once before, even through everything she had experienced in the army hospitals. Only once, when they had brought in her brother, delirious from fever. She must not faint now. They would never take her to see Li Sha if she fainted.

The policeman returned and thrust a chipped glass at her. “Here. Here.”

“Thank you, Officer.” Celia took a sip and handed back the glass. “So, might I see the detective?”

The officer scrunched his nose, which was crooked from a long-ago break. “Detective Greaves don’t take to bein’ disturbed when he’s interviewin’ folks.”

“In that case, is there someone else I might speak to?” When he hesitated, she sat taller and looked him straight in the face. “I shall wait here as long as is required.”

“I kin tell.”

“Then you have no reason not to permit me to speak with someone immediately.”

“Hey, Taylor, you busy?” the officer called to the policeman smoking in the corner. “This here lady wants to talk to someone about that Chinese girl found on the wharf. While she waits for your boss.”

Officer Taylor glanced over, and hastily stubbed out his cigar. He pulled a chair close to his desk. “Ma’am.”

Celia crossed the room while the other policeman went in search of the uninterruptible Detective Greaves.

“So, you think you might know the girl found yesterday?” Officer Taylor asked.

“I would have to see the body, obviously, to be certain.”

He went crimson, having the sort of pale skin that reddened easily. “Well, now, ma’am, that’s a mighty unpleasant thing you’re suggesting. She was cut all over. It was awful.”

Murdered? “If she was murdered, then I insist on seeing the body. I must know.”

“Detective Greaves–”

“Let me speak to him.” She stood and marched over to the door through which the policeman had vanished.

“Ma’am!” Officer Taylor shouted. “Come back here!”

With one motion, Celia stepped over the threshold and plowed straight into a very solid chest.

You can read more about Celia in No Comfort for the Lost, the first book in the NEW “Mystery of Old San Francisco” mystery series, published by Obsidian.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on August 21 for the chance to win a print copy of No Comfort for the Lost. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

Meet the author
Nancy Herriman retired from an engineering career to take up the pen. A twice-published novelist, No Comfort for the Lost is the first in her ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series. When not writing, she enjoys choral singing and eating dark chocolate. After two decades in Arizona, she now lives in her home state of Ohio with her family.

Visit Nancy at www.nancyherriman.com, on Twitter and on Facebook

56 responses to “A Day in the Life with Celia Davies by Nancy Herriman

  1. Love to win and read books


  2. Debbie Carnes

    Sounds great, would love to read this


  3. Doward Wilson

    This sounds like a very interesting read in a great time period and location.
    Thanks for the chance to win.


  4. I’m fascinated by tales of old San Francisco & would love to read No Comfort for the Lost by Nancy Herriman. I promise to add it to the library collection of the small rural NW MS library where I work after I’ve read & reviewed it. Thanks for the chance in the giveaway and for the introduction to this series.


  5. Like the time period this takes place in, thanks for the chance 🙂


  6. Celia sounds like the kind of strong woman I like to read about, especially in historical novels when they were unusual rather than the norm. Thanks for the chance to win.


    • I try to write my female protagonists as being strong, Gail, and hopefully in a context that makes it believable. In my research, I’ve discovered a host of strong-willed women making a difference in ways that don’t always end up in the history books.


  7. I have not read this author before. I love historical books so I will be adding this to my TBR lis


  8. This will be an interesting book. I always wanted to know how earlier nurses worked.


    • I find 19th century medicine intriguing, Gram. In some ways it was still primitive, but important advances–such as beginning to understand the need for antiseptic conditions–were occurring.


  9. This book sounds so good. Would be great to win.


    • If you do win, Nancy, I hope you enjoy Celia and the rather large cast of characters she’s surrounded by, including a rascally Irish orphan she’s taken under her wing and the large, boisterous Italian family who lives next door. Not to mention the handsome, aloof and sometimes sarcastic detective she’s forced to interact with. 😉


  10. Barbara Landrum

    Enjoy reading novels about nurses.


  11. Sounds fascinating and intriguing. Interesting era and story. Thanks for this great feature and wonderful giveaway.


  12. Last night I was doing my want list and added this book. I live near Sacramento and raised in Napa so I’m always interested in San Francisco based stories. I will donate this book to my small local library.


  13. Love historical novels set in Frisco, sounds like my kind of read, would love to win. ty for the chance


  14. I want this one.


  15. No Comfort for the Lost sounds like a wonderful book — I would love to read about another Celia! Thank you for the giveaway!


  16. elainehroberson

    Love to find new (to me) authors. Sounds like a great story. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.


  17. This would be a new author for me and this sounds like a great book. Thank you for having this contest!


  18. I’ve never been to SF so this sounds l like a great book to read and learn some history before I finally make the trip.


  19. Wow, sounds exciting! Thanks for the chance to win!


  20. WOW! This new book sounds great! Win or lose, I will read it.


  21. I love mysteries that have a historical twist to the plot. Thanks for the review. robeader53@yahoo.com


  22. This sounds like a wonderful read, different from my normal genre and time period but the summary was quick to grab me for sure.


  23. Cynthia E. Blain

    No Comfort For The Lost will be a tear jerker for me I am sure. We have a special connection to China due to the adoption of two beautiful granddaughters adopted by our daughter and son in law. Our daughter and her husband have been to China five times, most recently taking our oldest granddaughter back to see where she was found as this is something she just HAD to see and to experience. This family trip including their biological son born after the older granddaughter’s arrival, was a lengthy stay to visit areas that had special meaning to them and to then bring home granddaughter number two who has serious health issues that they were willing to take on and to help this beautiful child to have a much better chance at a healthier and happier life. We are so blessed to have these precious children in our lives and reading any story such as yours makes us feel even more grateful for our special gifts from China.

    This will be a must read for me, Nancy.

    Cynthia Blain


  24. Wow, Cynthia. What a great story you have to tell. Thanks for sharing


  25. I really enjoy Historical Cozies so I am looking forword to reading this one. Thanks


  26. Marilyn Watson

    I love the fact it’s set in an 1860’s time frame and the Chinese woman’s body floating in the water sounds like a fantastic mystery. I would love to read this one. Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com


  27. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities—and a perfect setting for a good mystery. Thanks for the contest.


  28. San Francisco, a nurse, a detective, I’m in. Judy D.


  29. A definite “must-read’ for me!!!!
    Thank you for the giveaway!!!!


  30. Having lived in the Bay Area for several years I have always enjoyed mysteries set in that locale from Shirley Tallman to Pronzini & Muller and many others. This sounds like another new series that I would enjoy reading and would love the chance to win a copy. Thanks.


  31. Thanks Nancy for commenting and interacting with my readers.

    Contest is closed.