Divine Fury is mainly located in San Francisco with scenes from other places in California, including the farm fields around Salinas (the “Salad Bowl” of America), looking for sea otters off the coast of Santa Barbara and in the redwood forests on the far northern coast of the state.
But, most of the action is centered in the urban core of San Francisco. Reporter Enzo Lee lives in the Italian district of North Beach next to Chinatown. He jogs down the Embarcadero and past the sea lions that live near Pier 39. The leaders in Andrew Harper’s campaign for governor live here as well and the novel takes the reader to some of their dining haunts and other places where they work and meet.
Early in Divine Fury, a murder occurs in which the body is left in a car parked at an old neighborhood in San Francisco called Dogpatch. It’s next to the waterfront on the east side of the city where there once was a very busy set of piers. But, as ships got larger and required deeper water, this stretch of the waterfront was largely abandoned. Interestingly, some of few places in San Francisco where you can eat overlooking the water are here – mostly beer and burger places although some hopeful upgrades have recently joined the neighborhood. This was one of few places in the older part of the city that did not burn during the 1901 Earthquake and so some of the oldest Victorians remain here.
Some of the action in Divine Fury occurs at Justin Herman Plaza, in the financial district, where the Vaillancourt Fountain provides a playful landmark for all office workers who flock there from their office buildings during the lunch break. One section of the plaza holds booths where you can find crafts and artwork. It’s also one of outdoor sites where groups can hold rallies.
A mile from the plaza, an extension of the downtown area runs along the side of Telegraph Hill. On other sides, the hill has a more gradual slope. But, on the northeastern side, it’s close to a sheer cliff. One reason is because large slabs of the huge outcropping were sliced off during and after the Gold Rush boom. After sailing ships carrying passengers and supplies offloaded, the stone was loaded to provide ballast for the empty runs back to the East Coast. At a couple of places on the cliff side, pathways have been built consisting of long stairways connected with pathways. They run all the way up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. It was here that lookouts would watch for the ships coming in and sometimes get news scoops via signal flags from the inbound ships: wars beginning or ending; presidents newly elected; the deaths of important leaders.
Looking for photo opportunities in the political campaign, the planners for Andrew Harper pick some picturesque spots for his announcements. An environmental policy press conference occurs off the coast of Santa Barbara where the local sea otters provide the backdrop for what otherwise might be a dry campaign speech. A speech about the immigration problems facing California takes place in an artichoke field where migrant workers harvesting the strange-looking vegetable show their importance to key industries. And, a dammed stream in the redwoods where huge salmon runs were once a regular occurrence is a backdrop for a policy statement about removing dams so a river can return to its natural state.
Some other key events in Divine Fury occur at the annual Pride Parade, a event that celebrates the gay, lesbian and transgender communities and lifestyles in San Francisco. Held every June as part of a larger multi-day celebration, it rivals the Chinese New Year parade for color and noise and clearly tops it in outlandishness. The event traditionally begins with the unforgettable Dykes on Bikes motorcade down the parade route. Over-the-top costumes are part of the scene.
Some important scenes also take place in a landmark cathedral in San Francisco. The model for this was Grace Cathedral, a gorgeous church located atop Nob Hill along side the mansions of many of the Californians who made their fortunes in the aftermath of the Gold Rush. Clearly inspired by the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, it’s a stunning place.