Poisoned Pen Press|3 April 2018|319 pages|e-book |Review copy|4*
I’ve read the first book in Ann Parker’s Silver Rush Mysteries, Silver Lies (see my review post) set in 1879/80 in the silver-mining town of Leadville, Colarado in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. I loved it and fully intended to read more of the series. Somehow that hasn’t happened. A Dying Note is the 6th book in the series, so I have some catching up to do. I wondered if this would be a problem, but it reads very well as a standalone book.
A Dying Note is set in the autumn of 1881. Inez Stannert is still the co-owner of Leadville, Colorado’s Silver Queen saloon, but she has left Leadville and is making a new start in life in San Francisco with her young ward, Antonia Gizzi. She is managing a music store, hoping to become an equal partner with the store’s owner, Nick Donato, a celebrated local violinist. In addition to managing the store she also gives piano lessons and is in silent partnership with some of the small businesses run by women in the city.
All is going well until the body of a young man, Jamie Monroe, is found washed up on the banks of Mission Creek canal. He had been beaten to death. Jamie is one of the musicians who frequented Nick’s music store and was in love with Carmella, Nick’s sister. So Inez and Antonia are drawn into the investigation into his death.
Then some of Inez’s old acquaintances from Leadville, including Harry Gallagher, arrive in San Francisco, threatening to expose her past. Harry is looking for his son, Robert and has brought with him Wolter Roeland de Bruijn, also known as ‘Mr Brown’ who he’d employed to find Robert. He insists that Inez helps Mr Brown which results in putting them all in danger.
It’s a fast paced mystery (that actually is not that difficult to figure out) and I enjoyed very much. I also liked the setting and all the details about San Francisco in 1881 – the scenery, the layout of the city with its dangerous areas of the Barbary Coast and Chinatown, where Inez, Antonia and Mr Brown search for Robert and follow the suspects of Jamie’s murder. The details about the efforts to set up a musicians union and the work of Frank Roney (a real life figure) involved in the Seamen’s Protective Union also add a lot to the story. The characters are also well defined and I was very taken with Antonia, a teenager with an inquisitive mind and lots of daring!
In her Author’s Note at the end of the book, Ann Parker identifies what is real, based on historical facts and what is the result of her imagination, with a warning that this contains spoilers – so don’t read it until after you’ve read the book! She also gives details of the sources she used in writing her book, all of which I think is fascinating, especially for me, knowing nothing about the history of San Francisco.
I shall certainly seek out books 2 – 5 in the Silver Rush Mysteries:
2. Iron Ties (2006)
3. Leaden Skies (2009)
4. Mercury’s Rise (2011)
5. What Gold Buys (2016)
Many thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for a review copy via NetGalley.