• Paperback: 324 pages
• Publisher: Helm Publishing (August 3, 2009)
In 1906, San Francisco has reached the peak of its golden age. Fortunes have created a society that attracts European opera singers and cordon bleu chefs. It is a world defined by elegant balls, oysters, and champagne. But there are darker sides to the city as well. The Mission district south of Market Street houses tenements where shanties huddle together and rats plague the streets. And nearby sits Chinatown, an endless warren of dark alleys that offers gambling, prostitution, and opium, all controlled by vicious gangs, called tongs.
Into these disparate worlds steps Marta Baldwin, a young woman who has shunned her own social background to help the poor. She is confronted by a hypnotist, a man who hypnotizes young women from the tenements and delivers them to the tongs in Chinatown to work in their brothels. Marta escapes his hypnotic trance, but when her assistant, Missy, disappears, Marta realizes she has been taken by the evil man who confronted her. She seeks the help of Byron Wagner, one of San Francisco's most prominent citizens. Marta finds herself drawn to Byron but knows his high social standing prevents any possibility of a relationship between them. This is confirmed when Marta discovers Byron having an intimate conversation with Lillie Collins, the daughter of one of the city's most elite families. Marta is flushed with jealousy. However, Lillie defies social customs, and her rebellious nature fits naturally with Marta's. Despite her envy, the two women become close friends. Marta is caught up in a whirlwind of opulent balls, opium dens and brothels, and police raids in Chinatown. She cannot deny her feelings for Byron, but she must save Missy and protect her new friends from harm. For lurking in the background is the hypnotist. He has become obsessed with Marta and will use all his guile to ensnare her. When he threatens those she loves, Marta is determined to stop him, even at her own peril. Will her boldness entrap her? If so, how can she hope to escape the man's hypnotic embrace? Then the earth trembles, and Marta's world will never be the same.
I must admit that was really got me interested in the book in the first was the extraordinary fascinating cover of the book. It's almost…hypnotizing to look at (pun intended).
Luckily the book was also good to read. Although sometimes I felt that the romance between Marta Baldwin and Byron Wagner took a little too much place. I mean I don't mind romance in crime novels. I just prefer it to not take over the story and frankly it was a bit too much instalove, with Marta feeling her heart flutter every time she sees Byron. Sorry to everyone out there that loves that kind of book. I just don't. I mean I do not mind that there is romance in the book. But sometimes it takes over the story and I would have liked the focus more on the hunt for the hypnotist then their blossoming romance.
But anyway, there are two things with this book was I really like. The setting is one thing. San Francisco 1906 and we get to see both sides of the city, both the rich part and the poor part and Chinatown is an interesting part of the story. It's like its own tiny world. And, I liked the idea of a hypnotist as a criminal that was a new approach. Unfortunately I wished that he had been a more interesting character, but frankly he was a bit pathetically. No really master plan, just a mentally unstable person. I never felt that he was a real threat that he would case real hurt or damage.
I must admit that I didn't expect the ending. It was logical when you think about. I like it when things happen that people have no way of predict, things that make every plan just collapse because you can't control everything.
Gordon Snider has written three non-fiction books, including his latest, I’m Travelling as Fast as I Can, which takes a humorous journey to far-away-places around the world. When he moved to California’s Central Coast in 1999, he began writing fiction. The Origamist is his fifth novel and a sequel to his third, The Hypnotist, a very popular historical thriller that is set in San Francisco in 1906. The other novels include: Sigourney’s Quest, an adventure story about a woman’s harrowing journey across Tibet; The Separatist, a mystery/suspense novel set in modern San Francisco; and Venice Lost, an adventure/fantasy about a man who becomes lost in time in Venice, Italy. Gordon has lived in California nearly his entire life. Home has ranged from Los Angeles to San Francisco, with stops in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach. Currently, he and his wife, Fe, enjoy walking the beaches and observing the migrating whales from their home in Pismo Beach. It is, he says, the perfect setting for creative writing. Find out more about Gordon and his books on his website.