Shirley Tallman, Murder on Nob Hill (2004) 304 pp.
In 1880, although females are not accepted as lawyers, 27-year old Sarah Lorraine Woolson (who learned the law from her father, Superior Court Judge for the County of San Francisco) feels capable and ready. She pulls a name game ploy using her brother Samuel, which enables “S.L. Woolson” to gain entry into the firm of Shepherd, Shepherd, McNaughton and Hall, attorneys-at-law. Then she “steals” a wealthy client, Annjennet Hannaford, when the distraught widow decries a lack of legal service from the firm’s lawyer Mr. Wylde. This presumptuous act forces fuming senior partner Joseph Shepherd to acknowledge Sarah as a junior associate. Three weeks earlier someone murdered Cornelius Hannaford, Annjennet’s husband of seven years, leaving her both as the prime suspect and without assets. Sarah immediately enables her client to obtain money while the estate remains in probate. Soon afterward, the police arrest Annjennet and her lover for the murder. While the law firm believes she is guilty, Sarah follows the money trail to discover how Hannaford and three partners made a fortune. When the partners are also killed as gruesomely as Hannaford, Sarah continues her inquiries while shaking up the male legal establishment.