Mignon G. Eberhart. Casa Madrone (1980) 244 pp.
In April 1906, the Bookever family of New York has fallen on hard times.
After the death of her uncle, Mallory Bookever and her Aunt Flo Bel have
had to sell off the jewelry, art collections, and even the silverware.
But things have started to turn around. Mallory is engaged to Richard Welbeck,
young, handsome, and heir to the San Francisco Welbeck fortune. Then news
arrives that Richard has broken his leg and is too ill to return to New
York for the wedding. He asks that Mallory travel to San Francisco for
the wedding in the company of his best friend, Scott Suydam. On the journey,
strange things happen: someone attempts to pull Mallory off the train;
a bottle of Flo Bel’s prescription chloral hydrate goes missing … and Mallory
begins to have strong feelings for Scott. When they arrive in San Francisco,
they find Richard to be an invalid in his Nob Hill mansion, and believe
that his cousin Dolores is purposely keeping him that way. Then the earthquake
strikes. In the aftermath, Richard is shot and killed. At first they believe
him to have been struck by a stray bullet fired by a patrolling soldier.
However, Mallory and Scott soon suspect that Richard has been murdered
in order to prevent his marriage; when another attempt is made on Mallory’s
life, they are convinced. As the fire approaches, everyone relocates to
Scott’s home, Casa Madrone, where they struggle to put their lives back
together and unmask a killer before he—or she—strikes again. Mignon Good
Eberhart (1899-1996) wrote over 60 novels in her long career (which culminated
in a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1971); this
is the only one with a San Francisco setting.