Seance in Sepia
Flynn, a modern-day woman, buys an unusual photograph at an estate sale. As she delves into the history behind this “spirit photograph” – an image of a woman with two floating male heads hovering above – she discovers a Victorian female photographer with a husband and a lover; their relationship culminated in a sensational murder trial in 1875 Chicago. With the help of the descendant of the policeman who investigated the murders, Flynn probes deeper. A famous female suffragist and spiritualist named Victoria Woodhull also investigated the crime at the behest of the accused, who begged for a séance to exonerate him. Through Flynn’s investigation, a recently uncovered diary kept by the lover, and Victoria’s careful notes, a web of sexual intrigue, blackmail, and betrayal emerges.
The writing is sparse, as are the setting details, but the characters are compelling. The past story could have stood alone without the modern interference.