Gold Digger: A Klondike Mystery

Written by Vicki Delany
Review by Suzanne Sprague

The mysterious Fiona MacGillivray and her 12-year-old son Angus came to Dawson at the end of the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush to evade a scandalous past. In the Yukon Territory, where traditional laws do not apply, Fiona’s charm attracts men willing to spend their gold at the successful Savoy dance hall, which she co-owns with a Scottish business partner responsible for bartending and security. When an unscrupulous San Francisco reporter arrives, murder soon follows. After he reports disgraceful lies and harasses Irene, Fiona’s most popular dance hall girl, his corpse winds up on the Savoy dance hall stage. Almost everyone is a suspect. Constable Richard Sterling of the Canadian Mounties assists with the investigation and keeps tabs, like usual, on Fiona, whom he respectfully admires. Fiona, always wary of the law, hastens to find the murderer first, convinced that it must be one of her allies.

Mostly murder mystery, part farce, and completely amusing, Gold Digger is told mostly from Fiona’s point of view. Chapters are also devoted to the activities of Angus and Constable Sterling. Fiona, despite her penchant for selfishness and manipulation, except where her son is considered, becomes a likeable character as she frets over Angus and reluctantly worries about her friends and customers. Angus and Sterling, as well as many townsmen, are smitten with Fiona’s resourcefulness and grace. Both men clearly recognize Fiona as a capable woman who does not need a man’s protection, but could use a little help now and again.

The accurate depiction of Dawson life as muddy and harsh and the hints to Fiona’s past as a lady of means add depth to this intriguing comedic murder mystery that is too entertaining to be missed.