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Monday, June 17, 2013

San Francisco Secrets by Greg Messel (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for San Francisco Secrets by author Greg Messel!

Author Guest Post

The Women of 1958

As I journey back into the 1950s to write my mystery series Last of the Seals, Deadly Plunge and San Francisco Secrets, the most striking change I notice is in the treatment of women.

It is a world that many younger readers may find difficult to believe once existed. What options were open to women in the 1950s as they hoped for a career or a chance to see the world before they "settled down?" "Settle down" was a euphemism in earlier eras to refer to the time in a young woman's life when she should shun the working world, get married and start having babies.

There is certainly nothing wrong with women getting married and raising children. However, in 1958, it was "either or" not both. In the world of my novels, I tried to make the character of TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan, reflective of the narrow opportunities for women in the 1950s.

I found an old job application for stewardesses from the 1950s. The requirements show how far we have come as a society and specifically how far women have come in their quest for equality in the work place.

Here is a laundry list of the requirements for stewardesses. They are:
Appearance: Height and weight proportionate
Attractive ("just below Hollywood") Standards
Gender: Female
Martial Status: Single, not divorced, separated or widowed.
Race: White
Age: 21 to 26 years old
Education: Registered nurse or two years of college
Height: Between 5 feet, 2 inches and 5 feet, 6 inches
Weight: 135 pounds maximum

I'm not sure how a woman is supposed to react to the qualification--"attractive, just below Hollywood standards." Is it a compliment or an insult to be told that you are "just below Hollywood standards?" It's astounding to think of a job application which would list the "qualifications" as "white, single, female, a range for height and of course, a weight restriction. The weight restriction was a sliding scale. For instance, the fictional character, Amelia Ryan is 5 feet four inches which means she could only weigh 125 pounds. If a stewardess shows up for a flight above weight, she is grounded.

The airlines wanted pretty young, single women to provide eye candy for their well-heeled passengers who flew--mostly affluent businessmen. Once a woman was over 26 or was married she was asked to resign.

That of course changed.

On February 11, 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor was hired by Mohawk Airlines and became the first African-American flight attendant in the United States. Ironically, despite her historic breaking of the racial restriction, Ruth's career ended just six months later due to another discriminatory barrier: she married and was dismissed by the airline. Incidentally, only stewardesses had the age restriction and the marriage ban. No other airline employees and especially pilots, were under the same type of requirements.

In my novel, stewardess Amelia Ryan falls in love with Sam Slater. They want to get married. But Amelia also loves her job. She has to choose between marriage and continuing as a stewardess. It was a great dilemma for her.

The glamorous world of stewardesses was one of the only avenues open to women in the 1950s to "see the world" and have a career. But it came at a great price.

In San Francisco Secrets another challenge rears it’s head for Amelia--sexual harassment.

A womanizing pilot, Mark Silver, is essentially Amelia’s boss and aggressively pursues her with unwanted sexual advances. There was no such term as “sexual harassment” in the 1950s. As she tried to fight off Capt. Silver, Amelia ponders the avenues she has to protect herself. There are basically none.

Amelia wonders if she goes to the airline to complain about Silver if it will cause her problems, not the pilot. She fears that when she complains about the “sexual harassment,” the airline will just say that “boys will be boys.” Stewardesses routinely had to evade grabby male passengers and the unwanted advances of pilots.

Sam is upset by the groping of Amelia and complains about her work environment saying that if anyone is attracted to my girlfriend they can “take a sample.”

It would be several years before the stewardesses unionized and stood up to the airline. There was a series of lawsuits that knocked down the discriminatory barriers for women.

About The Author

Greg Messel grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound with his wife, Carol. San Francisco Secrets is his sixth novel and is the third in a new series of Sam Slater mystery novels. Greg has lived in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Utah and has always loved writing, including stints as a reporter, columnist and news editor for a daily newspaper.

San Francisco Secrets by Greg Messel ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Pump Up Your Book!

San Francisco Secrets - Book Trailer

Book Review

San Francisco Secrets by Greg Messel
Book 3: Sam Slater Mystery Series
Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing
Publication Date: April 22, 2013
Format: Paperback - 448 pages / Kindle - 1713 KB 
ISBN: 0985485949
Genre: Historical Romance / Mystery - Suspense - Thriller

BUY THE BOOK: San Francisco Secrets

BUY THE SERIES: A Sam Slater Mystery
Book 1: Last of the Seals
Book 2: Deadly Plunge
Book 3: San Francisco Secrets

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.

Book Description:

Noted novelist and newspaper editor Edgar Watson Howe once said. “A man who can keep a secret may be wise but he is not half as wise as a man with no secrets to keep”.

As the spring of 1958 arrives in San Francisco, it seems that baseball player turned private eye, Sam Slater and his fiancée, TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan, are surrounded by people who have secrets.

A prominent doctor, John O’Dell is being blackmailed by someone who has discovered a dark secret from his past. When the private investigator trying to catch the blackmailer is murdered, Dr. O’Dell hires Sam Slater to try to pick up the pieces. Someone is playing for keeps and will do anything to protect their own secrets.

Meanwhile, Amelia begins her new job as an international stewardess which takes her on adventures to New York City, London, Paris and Rome. In hot pursuit is a womanizing older pilot who has his sights set on Amelia.

Their lives get even more complicated when a mysterious woman from Sam’s past returns.

Sam and Amelia’s relationship will be tested as they work together to solve the mystery on the foggy streets of San Francisco.

Book Excerpt:

March 6, 1958

On a quiet sunny Thursday afternoon, a quaint, little Spanish-style bank on Macarthur Boulevard in Oakland was robbed.

Two career criminals, Lloyd Wells and Doug McAllister, who were down on their luck, were elated as they pulled off a big score and made their getaway towards San Francisco.

The small neighborhood bank, made of white stucco with a red tile roof, had minimal security provided by an ancient bank guard who seemed to be dozing when the robbers stormed in. In the middle of the afternoon, there were just a few old people putting some money in their passbook savings accounts or cashing their Social Security checks.

Wells and McAllister needed this score badly. They planned to grab their loot and head for the Reno area where McAllister had a small rundown house. The score at the bank would set them up for future exploits in Reno.

Wells was anxious to get out of the Bay Area where he had already had several run-ins with the law. The bank robbery went flawlessly. It was over in just a few minutes with the tellers quickly emptying their cash drawers into McAllister’s bag before the thieves fled.

After making a clean getaway from the bank in Oakland, the pair caught the on-ramp to the Bay Bridge and headed for San Francisco. They kept checking their rearview mirror but there was no one in pursuit, even though they expected a lot of heat after the robbery.

McAllister and Wells wanted to get as far away as possible until things cooled down a bit after the heist. Wells had a plan to stash most of the loot from the robbery and then come back later to retrieve it before they permanently relocated to Reno.

McAllister tried to do a quick count of their haul while Wells drove the car cautiously over the bridge into San Francisco. It all happened so quickly inside the bank, but to his astonishment, it looked like they might have gotten away with as much as $70,000.

Wells drove out to Ocean Beach near the Cliff House on the western edge of the city, where he had parked his light-blue and white 1953 Chevy. He pulled the stolen aqua-colored 1954 Ford into the parking lot by the beach.

The men emptied everything out of the Ford. Wells popped the trunk on his Chevy and retrieved a burlap bag. The men put their black masks, hats, gloves, and two bricks into the bag.

They inspected the interior of the stolen car one last time and then locked it. McAllister looked around and then threw the keys to the Ford as far as he could out onto the sand of Ocean Beach. Wells transferred the bag full of money into the Chevy. The two men got into the car and drove away slowly.

They drove north past the Cliff House on the roadway that snaked along the seaside heading toward the Presidio grounds.

“Pull over here,” McAllister said.

Wells complied. McAllister retrieved the burlap bag and walked to the edge of a cliff near China Beach that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. He gave the bag a few swings and then threw it as far as he could off the cliff. McAllister watched the bag create a large splash as it landed in the ocean below.

When McAllister returned to the car, Wells said, “Time to go visit uncle.”

The men then headed to a house on O’Farrell Street in the heart of San Francisco. Wells’ uncle, Andrew Griffiths, was 85 years old and lived in an old Victorian townhouse that appeared frozen in time.

Wells had always been very fond of his uncle, who had raised him after his troubled parents abandoned him. Andrew Griffiths thought of Lloyd Wells as the son he never had, but he knew in his heart that attempts to keep his nephew on the straight-and-narrow were largely in vain. Griffiths had stopped asking Lloyd about his activities. He had come to the sad conclusion that it was best if he didn’t want to know a lot of details about his nephew’s life.

Wells knew that his uncle’s health was beginning to fail and he was spending more and more time in bed. His uncle’s only child was a daughter, Yvonne, who lived in Vacaville near Sacramento.

As the men parked in front of Uncle Andrew’s house, Wells gave final instructions to his partner.

“When we get in there, I’ll go into the back of the house and keep my uncle busy. There are two high-backed overstuffed antique chairs with green upholstery by the front window,” Wells explained. “Take the bank money and stuff it in the bottom of the two chairs. Just take your pocketknife and carefully pry off the covering on the bottom of the chairs. Put the cash inside and reattach the cloth on the bottom of the chairs. Got it?”

“Got it,” McAllister replied.

“Just make sure the covering on the bottom of the chair is securely fastened so the wad of cash stays put. Put the cash in these paper bags and secure it to the frame of the chair.


“Yeah, no sweat,” McAllister said.

“It’s important that no one suspects that there is anything stashed in the bottom of the chairs. Those chairs haven’t been moved for a hundred years, so it’s the perfect place to hide our money until we come back to San Francisco and get it. I just want to make sure no one gets wise about what’s in those chairs.”

“Okay. You’re sure you can keep your uncle occupied and he won’t hear me tinkering with the chairs?” 

“You could run a herd of cattle down my uncle’s hallway and he wouldn’t hear it. Just be quick about it and I’ll talk with him. I need to make sure he’s taken care of and I’ll explain that I’ll be out of town for a few weeks.”

“Sounds good. I’ll keep enough cash to get us through while we’re waiting for things to calm down,” McAllister replied.

“Right,” Wells responded. “Let’s get to work.”

My Book Review:

How far would you go to protect your secrets?

In San Francisco Secrets, the third book in the Sam Slater Mystery series, former baseball player turned private investigator Sam Slater is back with a new case to investigate. Sam and his fiancee, TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan are hired by prominent San Francisco Dr. John O'Dell, who is being blackmailed by someone who has discovered a dark secret from his past. Dr. O'Dell had initially hired another private investigator to solve the case, but he is murdered when he gets too close to the truth, and Sam is hired to pick up the pieces of the case. But secrets abound everywhere in San Francisco ... even Sam and Amelia have secrets that they protect ... and exposed secrets can be dangerous and deadly.

Author Greg Messel once again weaves another tale of romance, mystery and suspense set in 1958 San Francisco. Written in the third person narrative, the reader follows Sam and Amelia on their latest investigative case. In this riveting fast paced story, secrets protected and exposed are the key to solving the case of who is blackmailing Dr. O'Dell and the murder of the private investigator. But there is someone who will do anything to protect their own secrets, and Sam's discovery could have deadly results. Sam and Amelia's latest mystery adventure takes the reader on a thrilling ride with enough twists and turns that will keep them guessing. And if that isn't enough to whet your appetite, Sam and Amelia's relationship will be tested as they have their own secrets to deal with; in addition to the appearance of a mysterious woman from Sam's past; complications arise for Amelia when her new job as an international stewardess is put in jeopardy when a womanizing older pilot has set his sights on her!

Of the three books in the series, this book is my favorite as the focus on Sam and Amelia's relationship and past is more prominently explored. I loved the balance of mystery and romance that the author interweaves throughout the story. I was thoroughly fascinated with Ameila's portion of the story, and the late 1950s stewardess requirements and lifestyle.

San Francisco Secrets is rich in detail and vivid description of the authentic 1958 San Francisco time period. The author provides the reader with some really wonderful historical facts, statistics and pictures from that time period, you can't help but become captivated with the amount of interesting information that the author provides the reader throughout the story.

With a cast of characters who are interesting and draw the reader into their lives with their witty dialogue and dramatic interactions; and a riveting storyline that has enough intrigue, suspense, twist and turns, and a steamy romance that keeps the reader engaged and turning the pages, San Francisco Secrets is one heck of an entertaining romantic mystery novel.

San Francisco Secrets will captivate your imagination, and the mystery and amount of secrets will keep you guessing as you follow Sam and Amelia on their latest investigative adventure.

San Francisco Secrets is the third book in the Sam Slater Mystery Series, but can be read as a stand alone story. The author does reference characters and storyline plots from the other two books in the series, but he interweaves them so smoothly that the reader won't get lost or feel like they have missed anything. However, I would recommend that you follow the sequence of the books in the series, because once you have been drawn into Sam Slater's latest investigative adventures, you will be hooked and want to follow him onto his next adventure!


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

Monday, June 3 – First Chapter Reveal at Pump up Your Book
Tuesday, June 4 – Interview at Straight From the Author’s Mouth
Wednesday, June 5 – Book Review at Kaisy Daisy’s Corner
Thursday, June 6 – Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Friday, June 7 – Book Review at Miki’s Hope
Monday, June 10 – Book Trailer of the Week at Pump Up Your Book
Monday, June 10 – First Chapter Reveal at Vic’s Media Room
Tuesday, June 11 – First Chapter Reveal at The Writer’s Life
Tuesday, June 11 – Book Trailer Reveal at Vic’s Media Room
Wednesday, June 12 – Guest Blogging at Vic’s Media Room
Thursday, June 13 – Book Featured at Examiner
Thursday, June 13 – Character Guest Post at Vic’s Media Room
Friday, June 14 – First Chapter Reveal at Beyond the Books
Friday, June 14 – Book Review at Vic’s Media Room
Monday, June 17 – Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Tuesday, June 18 – First Chapter Reveal at Beauty But a Funny Girl
Wednesday, June 19 – Guest Blogging at Confessions of a Reader
Thursday, June 20 – Interview at Janna Shay’s Fair Play
Friday, June 21 – Book Review at Bless Their Hearts Mom
Monday, June 24 – First Chapter Reveal at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, June 27 – Character Guest Post at My Book Addiction and More
Friday, June 28 – Book Review at My Devotional Thoughts
Monday, July 1 – Book Review & Guest Blogging at From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, July 2 – Book Review at Mary’s Cup of Tea
Wednesday, July 3 – Guest Blogging at Paperback Pursuer
Friday, July 5 – Interview at The Dark Phantom
Monday, July 8 – Book Trailer Reveal at Beyond the Books
Monday, July 8 – Interview at Blogcritics Tuesday,
July 9 – First Chapter Reveal at Read My First Chapter
Wednesday, July 10 – First Chapter Reveal at Between the Covers
Thursday, July 11 – Book Review at Sara’s Organized Chaos
Friday, July 12 – Interview at Examiner
Monday, July 15 – First Chapter Reveal at As the Pages Turn
Tuesday, July 16 – Book Trailer Reveal at The Writer’s Life
Wednesday, July 17 – Book Feature at Authors & Readers Book Corner
Thursday, July 18 – Interview at Books Books the Magical Fruit
Friday, July 19 – Book Review at My Cozie Corner
Monday, July 22 – Book Trailer Reveal at If Books Could Talk
Thursday, July 25 – Book Review at The Self-Taught Cook
Friday, July 26 – Release Day Diva Facebook Event
Friday, July 26 – First Chapter Reveal at I’m Shelfish

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