Leslie Ford. Siren in the Night (1943) 241 pp.
Grace Latham, the charming, middle-aged, widow heroine of fifteen of Leslie Ford’s novels, finds herself in San Francisco shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She has taken up residence on the fashionable San Joaquin Terrace, a fictional neighborhood nestled between Nob Hill and Russian Hill. During an air raid blackout, one of her neighbors, Loring Kimball, is discovered murdered in his home. Everyone on the Terrace, including his daughter, second wife, step-daughter, protégé, and neighbors, have reasons for wanting him out of the way. Grace’s long-time admirer, Col. John Primrose, arrives to take over the investigation, but even he cannot prevent the killer from striking again. From her excellent vantage point, Grace Latham has a vivid view of wartime San Francisco:
“Two great blue battleships lay on either side of Telegraph Hill. Four ships were lying in Dynamite Row, and a submarine, long and sleek and low, was moving from Treasure Island out toward the Golden Gate. A flight of heavy bombers with interceptor planes roaring around was zooming toward Angel Island, in war games that aren’t games any more. A huge old liner that had come through the net just this side of the Golden Gate was maneuvering into her berth in the Embarcadero. I recognized her four slanting stacks, even though she was battered and dirty grey, with no tubbed palms to roll down into the salon as there’d been when I crossed the Atlantic on her one winter. Another passenger ship, smoky black where once she’d been gleaming white and the pride of the Island run, was moving slowly under the Oakland Bridge. A destroyer that hadn’t been there the night before was docked alongside one of the battleships. Up the Bay six freighters were moving together to form another convoy going out on the long voyage. There was a sense of drama and excitement, a grim realization that men and materials were moving to far battlefronts, that only coastal cities can know.”
1001 Midnights, p. 260