When Anne Louise Bannon heard her husband, then archivist for the City of Los Angeles, speak about the how early Angelenos dug a large ditch (a zanja) to cull water from the Porciuncula River (now known as the Los Angeles River), her first thought was that the Zanja would be an interesting place to find a dead body. Death of the Zanjero and Death of the City Marshall were the first two in her Old Los Angeles series (both delightful), and now comes Death of the Chinese Field Hands (Healcroft House, 2020). Protagonist Maddie Wilcox is a widowed doctor who owns and manages a ranch and vineyard. When she isn’t supervising her wine production, ranch business, and a sizable staff, Maddie is called upon to treat the injuries and diseases of her neighbors. Solving murders is just a past-time, but luckily, she has a keen eye for details and knows what it means when a boot print with a gaping hole is discovered near the bodies of several Chinese workers. The story is loosely based on the lynching of eighteen Chinese men on October 24, 1871 and reminds us that small-minded bigotry and xenophobia is a shameful part of American history we have yet to overcome.
Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Wines and Vines, and in newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog, and created the OddBallGrape.com wine education blog with her husband, Michael Holland. She is the co-author of Howdunit: Book of Poisons, with Serita Stevens, and author of the Freddie and Kathy mystery series, set in the 1920s, the Operation Quickline Series, and the Old Los Angeles series, set in the 1870s. Anne and her husband live in Southern California with an assortment of critters. When not reading or writing, she sews, and is currently learning how to make men’s pants.