Pros: interesting characters, interesting setting, intricate plot
It’s 1917 and though San Francisco’s far from the war in Europe, the war’s affects are felt there. Delia’s become Isadora’s apprentice in dealing with ghosts in order to help with her ‘gift’ of seeing them. But her schooling’s tried by the ghost of a young girl that has started haunting her, which doesn’t seem bound by the normal rules and can’t be banished. Meanwhile, Captain Gabe Ryan and his partner Jack Fitzgerald start investigating a murder that appears to have an occult connection.
This is a murder mystery with ghosts. It’s twist is that the culprit’s discovered fairly early but proving a case against the person, that would hold up in court, proves to be very difficult. The viewpoints alternate between Delia and Gabe, focusing on the troublesome ghosts on the one hand and the murder case on the other. There are a good number of twists and turns and you don’t know who will survive ‘till the end.
I loved all of the characters. They’re well written, with backgrounds that are painful in different ways, making them feel like real people. The protagonists all have understandable motivations for their actions, and while the antagonists’ reasons for doing things aren’t as well defined - until the end - they don’t feel like cookie cutter villains at any point.
You get to see a bit of chinatown and some of the racism the inhabitants there faced. Those scenes were handled carefully and considerately.
It’s the second book in the series, but the books are written episodically, so you can easily pick this up without reading Delia’s Shadow. If you like ghosts and mysteries and good writing, you’ll love this series.