Author Nicholas Marsh’s first historical fiction novel takes readers back to 1800s Ann Arbor


Welcome to the late 1800s in Ann Arbor where readers of Nicholas Marsh’s latest novel are introduced to the hushed escapades of a reputed madam. In Marsh’s “Madam Queen Sill,” a newspaper reporter, intrigued by Sill’s mystery and reputation, finds himself thick into helping investigate the murder of two of Sill’s ladies of the night. Working together with a resolute local, and acting on Sill’s suspicions, fast-moving sleuthing leads to an alarming conclusion.

Marsh, whose other popular books include “Michigan Central Railroad” and “Remembering Delhi Mills,” a book about the early days in Delhi, continues to combine his two passions, writing and history, into another entertaining and informative journey.

“Madame Queen Sill” is available at where one of the reviews stated: “Being familiar with the Ann Arbor area made it fun because I could tag along with the characters. Sill’s profession required she be strong and tough at times though I could feel her tender side too.”

Drawing on his past research and vast knowledge of local history Marsh cleverly walks the reader through the late 1800’s in Ann Arbor. His narrative in time period references draws you quickly to days gone by and piques your interest in this “who done it” tale.

“More than 30 years ago, while doing research on one of my Ann Arbor area history projects, I ran across an infamous local prostitute who went by the appellation “Queen Sill,” says Marsh. “Information was sketchy, but her existence was verified by further research, although her real name eluded me. I held the information, not knowing what to do with it. At the time, it wasn’t a topic I was interested in pursuing further.”

But as time went by, Marsh began floating her moniker around some of the local Ann Arbor historian groups to see if anyone had ever heard of her.

“Wystan Stevens, more or less, anchored that informal cluster of like-minded local history hounds,” Marsh said. “We were frequently called on to answer questions and inquiries from local historical organizations or each other if we were stumped on a personal project. No one I asked had heard of Queen Sill.

“A few months ago I decided to tell her story because it is unlikely anyone else will. She is a buried part of our local history and I found it intriguing that she operated in our county for two decades, yet her name doesn’t appear in print in local history books.”

Marsh began by sketching out the story of her life based on what little information was available. He used an historical novel approach.

“Since she traveled countywide in the late 1800s, I knew that time period and setting very well from my non-fiction projects and put it all together to spin out a murder mystery using a few characters modeled after local residents. The story is a fictional murder mystery with Queen Sill living in Ann Arbor in 1899.”

Marsh adds that “I had some help from good friends, which I usually do” in his first effort in historical fiction. This well written story holds your interest and keeps you hoping for swift justice.

Besides writing articles for the Ann Arbor Observer, Michigan History Magazine, The Chronicle, and others, Marsh has published the following books on our area:

“The Michigan Central Railroad, History of the Main Line 1846-1901.”

“History of Ann Arbor’s Company A, 31st Volunteer Michigan Infantry 1889-1899.”

“Remembering Delhi Mills, Ninety Years of Forgotten History 1827-1917.”

“Scio Village, Ghost Town with a Past 1827-1917.”

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