What Gold Buys: A Silver Rush Mystery
This is the fifth in Parker’s Silver Rush mystery series, set in Leadville, Colorado in the 1880s. I haven’t read the first four but was so taken by Parker’s protagonist, Inez Stannert, that I’ll rectify that asap. Inez and her estranged husband, Mark, return to Leadville after a sojourn in Colorado Springs. Inez is determined to divorce Mark after a year, and he is equally determined to win her back. Of course, their lives are complicated by their joint ownership of the saloon, the Silver Queen, along with African-American Abe Jackson.
Inez is distracted from her own problems by the plight of young Antonia Drizzi. She’s been supporting her soothsayer mother, Drina, by working as a newsboy named Tony. When Drina is murdered and then her body disappears, Inez looks after Antonia, who may be next in the killer’s sights. Parker expertly captures the roughness of a mining town where saloon owners and brothel madams seek to separate prospectors from their money. Foppish drunken Englishmen, sinister undertakers, and reporters round out the cast of characters. Inez is a complex woman, and the comeuppance she delivers to Mark is so satisfying that I can’t wait for the sixth in the series.