About the Book
Sometimes you can’t keep your gown out of the gutter…
Inez Stannert has reinvented herself—again. Fleeing the comfort and wealth of her East Coast upbringing, she became a saloon owner and card sharp in the rough silver boomtown of Leadville, Colorado, always favoring the unconventional path—a difficult road for a woman in the late 1800s.
Then the teenaged daughter of a local prostitute is orphaned by her mother’s murder, and Inez steps up to raise the troubled girl as her own. Inez works hard to keep a respectable, loving home for Antonia, carefully crafting their new life in San Francisco. But risk is a seductive friend, difficult to resist. When a skeleton tumbles from the wall of her latest business investment, the police only seem interested in the bag of Civil War-era gold coins that fell out with it. With her trusty derringer tucked in the folds of her gown, Inez uses her street smarts and sheer will to unearth a secret that someone has already killed to keep buried. The more she digs, the muddier and more dangerous things become.
She enlists the help of Walter de Brujin, a local private investigator with whom she shares some history. Though she wants to trust him, she fears that his knowledge of her past, along with her growing attraction to him, may well blow her veneer of respectability to bits—that is, if her dogged pursuit of the truth doesn’t kill her first.
Inez is excited about the purchase of the adjoining house to Moira Kraus, both because it will help Moira and it will be better for her and Antonio. Besides Antonio and Charlotte get along and Inez wants to create as normal a life as she can for her ward. All set for the celebration, there's the discovery of the corpse in the wall complete with gold coins.
While Moira worries about a decent burial for the man and the curse on the house, the police are more concerned with the gold. Inez begins sleuthing and engages de Brujin, an acquaintance of sorts. At the same time, Antonio and Charlotte have made discoveries unbeknownst and to the adults. As Inez and de Brujin unravel pieces of the puzzle and there's a new murder, the tension builds.
The pace is steady and the plot is fascinating with increasing tension as political alliances related to the Civil War may play a role. Inez is an interesting character as are the others. The historical setting in San Francisco, lingering animosity between the those who sided with the Union versus the Confederacy, the emphasis on respectability, together with Inez's take action personality make her a strong and protective female protagonist.
For those who enjoy historical mysteries set in the west, this will be an enjoyable read. This is my first book in the series, but that didn't affect the story - Parker's descriptions and character development are strong. The visit to Alcatraz was unexpected. I always suggest starting a series in the beginning, though I'm tempted to read the next one to see how the relationship between Inez and de Brujin progress.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.
About the Author
Ann Parker is a science writer by day and fiction writer by night. Her award-winning Silver Rush Mysteries series, published by Poisoned Pen Press, a Sourcebooks imprint, is set primarily in 1880s Leadville, Colorado, and more recently in San Francisco, California, the “Paris of the West.” The series was named a Booksellers Favorite by the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, and Ann is listed in the Colorado Authors’ Hall of Fame. The Secret in the Wall is the eighth and newest entry in the series.
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