The Lost Daughters

The Lost Daughters

A mystery by Janis Bolster; second novel in the Sally Jean Chalmers Editorial Mysteries (the first book in the series, Murder in Two Tenses, was published in July 2010). Trade paperback, 332 pages, with 43 illustrations. $17.95. ISBN: 978-0-9824848-6-9. Publication date: September 2011. A Reader's Guide is available for this title.

The Lost Daughters was a finalist for the 2012 Maine Literary Awards in the crime fiction category.

Janis is currently working on the third title in the series, Emily Dickinson in the Attic.

Her most recent title is Doubles, an out-of-series mystery, due out in November 2013.

About The Lost Daughters

Having moved to Portland, Maine, with (well, sort of with) her straying boyfriend, Sally Jean Chalmers is now reevaluating her choices. The boyfriend hasn't lost interest in her; he's just not good at resisting new interests. Her freelance editorial income has dried up, and although she loves her garret, she doesn't want to starve in it.

Then local professor Amy Cottrell hires her to edit an old family diary kept by Amy's great-grandmother, Fanny. Sally likes Amy and loves the diary. Fanny wrote about everything she saw or felt or heard in Portland: a man with his hat on fire during the great blaze of 1866, the cargoes on the ships she watched from the top of the brand-new Portland Observatory, her hatred of the jewels hidden somewhere in the family home – and her growing certainty that her father and grandfather committed unspeakable crimes.

Sally has just begun uncovering secrets when Amy is murdered, with Sally's fingerprints all over the murder weapon and police on her doorstep. Before Sally can clear her name, she’s embroiled in treasure hunts, research that exposes the dark side of the Portland shipping trade, and a tense pursuit across Casco Bay.

From The Lost Daughters:

The most intriguing thing in the volume by far, was the censorship. Most of it followed no clear pattern: half a set of knitting directions were missing, or the end of an innocuous list. But three times in the part I’d read, the break came in the middle of an entry concerned with family history. On October 30, 1882, Fanny wrote:

Image of gslate gravestone with deathshead

Aunt Emerson thought I had gone out, before her dear friend Mrs Parker arrived for a visit. I had meant to go to the stores for gloves and ribbon, for Saturday’s party but the sun blazed too much for my head ache. Instead, I sat in the darkest corner of the back parlor, with a book of sermons on my lap, in case I should be asked what I did. The carpet in that room is an ugly one, I wonder I never noticed before. There I sat, my mind on nothing, and when I heard Mrs Parker admitted in the next room, I thought, how I should have made my escape sooner, for now I was trapped. Aunt Emerson would not like my excusing myself, past her visitor, so I thought I would stay where I was, and wait till she had gone. They spoke of small nothings, things of no interest even to themselves I’m sure.

They spoke then of Grandmother Cottrell, and I listened rather more than I had done, because I know little of her. “It was Frances dying that killed her, I’ll tell you that” said Mrs Parker. Aunt Emerson said “There’s dying and dying, if you know what I mean,” and Mrs Parker said she did know, and did Aunt think Grandmother Cottrell knew how Frances

And there the entry had been ripped to a stop.

Reader responses to The Lost Daughters:

I started Lost Daughters yesterday and I am already more than half way through and VERY reluctant to put it down for mundane things like eating and sleeping. Sally is “coming into her own.” I also like the wry humor and the really interesting tidbits of Portland history. - M. R., New York, NY

I even took the book to work with me one day to read as I sat in the sunshine in my truck drinking coffee. The problem is I don't know that the book is long enough. I am getting down to the end and don't know what will happen next. - F. M., Dover Foxcroft, ME

I just finished The Love Daughters. Amazing, it is even better than Murder in Two Tenses. I simply LOVED it. I started it a couple of days ago, and last night stayed up until midnight so I could finish it! Really, a wonderful, entertaining book. - M. H., Gorham. ME

Congratulations on a great book! It's even better than Murder in Two Tenses. I was captivated by the story line – I love books based on family lineages/histories, and I lingered over the Cottrell family tree again and again. I was charmed by the descriptions of Portland and the historical detail that informs the book (along with the graphics). - M. B., Walnut Creek, CA

You had me at the cover. What a great story! And the illustrations really gave me a sense of Portland, Maine. I can see why it won an award. I can't decide which Sally Jean mystery I like best, so I'm leaving it open until I can add the next one to the decision matrix. - A. L., Geneva IL

The family secret is horrific; I don't buy the idea of collective guilt, but this was an act so horrifying that just knowing about it somehow implicates people. I'd expected the usual slavery or molesting or abusive father and was blindsided by the horror of what actually happened and descended thru the generations of lost daughters. And what astounding photos! - S. T., Vermilion OH

Everything about The Lost Daughters struck me as exactly right from the very beginning. Starting with Sally Jean, of course, both her storytelling and her humor. I look forward to seeing her entangled in Hitchcockian situations – extraordinary things happening to ordinary people – in future installments of the Sally Jean Chalmers mystery series. - L. S., Bath ME

I read this in two evenings! I loved it!! It reads smoothly and slowly picks up speed so you can't put it down. What fun! and what a fantastic creepy horrid Victorian ending. - M. B., Bath ME


(Please visit our order page if you are ordering for a library or school, or if you'd like your purchase gift-wrapped.)


Would you like to share your response to The Lost Daughters?

Please use our contact form to document your response.

© 2009-13 by Lin Maria Riotto and Crossing Waters Design. All rights reserved.