Lizzie Kennedy is a square peg in a round hole. She cannot be the perfect lady that her Aunt Hortense wants her to be. She hates her private girls’ school, and is lonely because she hasn’t made any friends. She would rather to be a doctor like her father, and enjoys helping him with his patients. Lizzie and her family live in San Francisco in 1900, when women were expected to marry rather than have careers. This does not suit Lizzie at all. She has an inquisitive nature which often gets her into trouble. She is always full of questions, especially when rumours start that there is a deadly illness in Chinatown. People blame the sickness on the people living there and the area is cordoned off. The city starts to become a very dangerous place, full of mobs and fear. Lizzie’s family want her to stay safe, but then Jing, the family’s cook and chauffeur, disappears and Lizzie discovers a strange boy hiding in the attic. The boy becomes her friend. He desperately needs Lizzie to find Jing and get him out of the cordon surrounding Chinatown. Lizzie is a very resourceful girl, but can she do it? Her friends, Gemma and Gus, help her, as does her brother, Billy. But Billy is reckless, and tragedy ensues. Do they have a chance of escaping the disease that threatens San Francisco?
This is an exciting historical mystery by Gennifer Choldenko, the award-winning author of Al Capone Does My Shirts. The story itself is fiction but is based on historical fact. It is well researched and cleverly brings the period to life. Lizzie is an engaging and adventurous heroine, and the story is both exciting and intriguing. It’s cleverly constructed and very well written and is an extremely enjoyable read that will appeal to pre-teenage and teenage readers.