The Old Los Angeles series of historical mysteries are supposedly based on the memoirs of one Maddie Wilcox, a winemaker and physician in the 1870s. In the books, Maddie is pulling from her extensive journals as she writes almost fifty years later about her life in what was then a relatively small, but growing pueblo. This is a look at what might have been the original journal entry for the day Death of an Heiress, book four in the series, starts.
A day singularly lacking in satisfaction. An appalling lack of sleep. Did eventually deliver Sñra Delgado of a healthy boy, but labor took forever. Returned at 3 a.m.
Up at dawn, as usual.
Sofia, day four of measles, getting better. Ignacio and Lupe both mostly recovered. More cases appearing, but the babes have been spared so far, thanks be to God.
NB – must order new barrels for winery, vineyard needs weeding.
Wore ochre silk bomb. to the court hearing. Timothy Gaines is a despicable human being. Worse yet, that jackass Widney accepted his suit and now dear Lavina is without her inheritance. Completely against what her father wanted.
I am deeply frustrated. At least, we women can finally own property. But to not even be able to speak to the soundness of the old man’s mind simply because of my female state. Worse yet, to claim that Lavina, who is possibly the most sensible young woman I know, does not have the capacity to manage her half of her father’s estate, then to have His Honor accept it, knowing full well that all the younger Mr. Gaines wanted was to keep all of the money. I am beside myself!
Lavina, bless her, held up well, was even kind to that other jackass, C. Alverno. Then Mrs. and Mr. Gaines came to take their sister to their house. What wretched, horrid people! Claiming that I am not an appropriate attachment for Lavina. And expecting me to understand!
Then to find that Juanita is still bent on marrying Ernesto Navarro. I honestly do not believe that she knows what a rascal he truly is, and I cannot say why. Or I shouldn’t.
Changed to brown habit.
Maria was forced to slap that appalling Mr. Larson again. I insisted that she go elsewhere, not that it will do much good. The other men in the pueblo seem to feel that it is their right to take liberties with women, then blame us for being too enticing.
NB – Include request for sugared violets in my next letter to Carrie, add draft to pay for them??
Marielena Reposada, age 3, measles w/ fever and pneum. Applied salve, cool compresses. Dsc’d.
Baby Delgado doing well, but Sñra mildy feverish.
Adam Wright, age 11, broken arm, still in cast, getting restless, no measles.
Pedro Dona, age 27, gunshot wound healing, no fever. Want to do something about his temper. Injured in fight for the third time this year. He will be dead by Christmas.
Carlotta Simons, age 42, still lingering with pulmonaria. Gave quinine, 4 grn., drops for the cough, and recommended beef tea.
Nothing more to be done. As noted above, singularly lacking in the least satisfaction.
Nonetheless, I am well, and thanks to the Providence of our Loving God, my business prospers. We have not lost any of the children on the rancho to measles or anything else. And Lavina has the affections of her Mr. Smith. There must be something we can do about that inheritance.
About Death of an Heiress
When the unmentionable stalks the pueblo
It starts when the inheritance that Lavina Gaines was to receive is stolen by her brother Timothy. Then an old Indian healing woman is murdered. Winemaker and physician Maddie Wilcox wants to find the person responsible for Mama Jane's death, but is also occupied with another killer - the measles.
When Lavina's friend Julia Carson dies trying to rid herself of a pregnancy, Lavina asks Maddie's help finding the man responsible for Julia's child. Soon after, Lavina is killed and her murder bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Mama Jane's. The only motive Maddie can find involves Julia's death, which is not the sort of thing one talks about. Not only that, Lavina's nether garments are missing.
It's a difficult challenge, but Maddie rises to it, searching among the many men of the pueblo, including some of her dearest friends.
How does a proper lady in 1872 get the answers she needs to stop a killer determined to stop her first?
About Anne Louise Bannon
Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Wines and Vines, and in newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog, and created the OddBallGrape.com wine education blog with her husband, Michael Holland. She is the co-author of Howdunit: Book of Poisons, with Serita Stevens, as well as author of the Freddie and Kathy mystery series, set in the 1920s, the Operation Quickline series and the Old Los Angeles series, set in the 1870s. Her most recent title is the current stand-alone, Rage Issues. She and her husband live in Southern California with an assortment of critters. Visit her website at AnneLouiseBannon.com.