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The Other Side of the Door

Lucia Chamberlain

Book Overview: 

It's 1865 in the city of San Francisco. Pretty, young Ellie Fenwick is walking to the market early one morning to surprise her father with some fresh mushrooms. As she passes a gambling house, she hears a gunshot and two young men emerge. One man falls dead on the pavement and the other is Johnny Montgomery, a handsome young man Ellie recognizes from seeing him previously at a dance. Johnny is holding a smoking pistol in his hand. This incident propels the proper young Ellie into a world of prisons and courtrooms as a murder trial unfolds and the fate of Johnny may rest with her testimony. But, what is the connection with the mysterious Spanish Woman, who lives in a grand house and supposedly has friends in 'high places'? Who else was in the gambling house at that time of the morning before it had opened? What about the whispered conversations between Ellie's father, Mr. Fenwick, and his friend, Mr. Bingley, a prominent attorney prosecuting the case? Things are not always what they may seem.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The sight of it affected me strangely. I had a new bracelet which also had two bands with a chain between, but they were of gold, and both were worn on the one hand.

The Chief of Police came and stood beside me, and said, "Look at this person, Miss Fenwick;" and I had been looking at him all the time, as if by doing that I could make him understand how terribly I wished I had never seen him. "Can you take your oath—could you take your oath in open court that he is the man?"

The Chief's voice sounded solemn, and those words "oath" and "open court" made me feel frightened. But I saw he held up his hand, palm out, and mechanically I held up mine. "Yes," I repeated after him, "I can take my oath in open court." My voice sounded very loud to me, and clear, and not at all like my own.

There was a pause, and now they were no longer looking at me, but at the man standing alone in the middle of the room, as if the chain between h. . . Read More

Community Reviews

unexpectedly nice.

A little slow to start, but really a wonderful story.

A quintessential novel of manners. Fine moral intelligence and subtle psychological insight expressed in a straightforward, epigrammatic style. The musicality of it must owe to the baroque style of the time as well as to the skills of the writer. Her words were precise and descriptors well-chosen...more

In post Civil War San Francisco a young lady is witness to a crime. The apparent criminal is a popular man about town although a bit of a cad. Young lady faces both her inner demons and threats to her personal safety to do her civic duty to testify at the trial. The cad is convicted, but alas tha...more

In the blossoming San Francisco of 1865, just after the shooting of Abraham Lincoln, another shooting takes place which is seen by a similarly blooming young girl of sixteen, Eleanor Fenwick, making her the key witness in a trial to determine the guilt or innocence of a charming reprobate and thr...more