Back-Alley Barbary Coast Murder Mystery

Frog-Music-by-Emma-DonaghueSet in 1876 San Francisco, California, against the backdrop of a smallpox epidemic and seething racial tensions, Emma Donoghue’s exquisitely crafted literary thriller, Frog Music (Little Brown, $27), vividly captures the post Gold-Rush frontier town’s tumultuous transition to modern city.

Based on a real unsolved murder case, the story centers on Blanche Beunon, a popular burlesque dancer and soiled dove who befriends Jenny Bonnet, an eccentric young free-spirit who wears men’s clothing and makes her living catching frogs. When her new friend is murdered, Blanche devotes herself to tracking down the killer, but in the process she finds that her slain friend had some secrets of her own. Bawdy, raucous—and unforgettable.

—Patrick Millikan, editor of  Phoenix Noir

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