cover image The Russian Hill Murders

The Russian Hill Murders

Shirley Tallman, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-312-32857-3

In Tallman's top-drawer second mystery set in late 19th-century San Francisco (after 2004's The Nob Hill Murders ), attorney Sarah Woolson takes on a couple of cases that draw a torrent of protests from her law firm: the widow of a man killed in a multiple-fatality fire in a sweatshop seeks her help, as does a Chinese tong leader who asks her to defend a fellow countryman accused of murdering an accountant. In addition, a handsome, well-to-do bachelor wants her to handle his business negotiations. When all three clients' situations begin to intersect, Sarah realizes she has waded into dangerous, if not lethal, waters. Judge Woolson, Sarah's father, and Robert Campbell, her sole supporter among her law firm's associates, both lend their assistance, but neither is prepared when Sarah's investigations implicate members of San Francisco's high society in the crimes. Credible characters, cleverly subtle clues and a highly satisfying conclusion mark this intriguing tale as a superior example of its subgenre. Agent, James C. Vines. (July)