Sunday, November 13, 2011

GOLD FEVER

Usual November weather but good on the whole. At least here in Southern Ontario. I hear it's snowing out west.

Liz is feeling better and her eye is healing as long as she puts the ointment on it. We are having a get-together on Thursday to do out usual plotting and planning.

I watched the Remembrance Day ceremony from Ottawa on Friday and as usual I find it very moving seeing all the old soldiers. When it came to have the "Going down of the sun" it was spoken in three languages. English, French and First Nations. As I am hard of hearing I always watch television with the captions on. Some are better than others. CBC is the worst and this was a perfect example. When it came to the First Nations speaker the captions read.....get this..foreign language!!!! I was insenced but like a lot of things I probably will not do much about it. Glad I got that off my chest.

As promised, a review of Gold Fever

Gold Fever

A Klondike Mystery

By Vicki Delaney

Rendezvous Crime, 290 pages, $18.95.

Reviewed by Pamela Blance November 3rd/2011

Vicki Delaney is a critically acclaimed Canadian author. She has settled into rural life in Prince Edward County to continue writing three different genres of fiction. Her first three novels of suspense were published by Poison Press of Scottsdale Arizona. She is now writing her fifth police procedural featuring Constable Molly Smith. My favourites by far are the Klondike Mysteries published by Rendevous Crime which is set in Dawson City, The Yukon Territory, in the late 1900’s.

When Chloe, a Savoy dance hall girl, is found stabbed to death in the narrow, muddy, poverty reeking, Paradise Alley, the North West Mounted Police are called in. Sent to investigate the murder scene - an alley lined with the mean cribs of prostitutes - is Constable Richard Sterling. Then a high roller named Jannis becomes the second murder victim, and the red-coated Mounties are determined to get their man...or woman.

It’s the summer of 1898 and Fiona McGillivray had come to the Klondike gold fields in the Yukon Territory the year before to set up “the finest, most modern establishment in London, England, transported all the way to Dawson.” She is the proprietor of the Savoy Saloon and Dance Hall with her Glaswegian partner, Ray Walker, another of the many characters who found their way to the Yukon with dreams of getting rich. There were many such saloons on the main street of Dawson City, but none like the Savoy. It was Fiona’s own private gold mine.

Fiona was born on the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland. Brought up in the “big house” as companion to the local Earl’s daughter, she educated herself on the speech and mannerisms of the gentry. She was often called Miss Muckety Muck by those who did not like the way she led her life. Leaving Scotland under questionable circumstances for the streets of London, Fiona would be looking over her shoulder for the law for years to come. She was very beautiful and learned to live by her wits. Well aware of her appearance and the effect it had on others, she took every advantage it provided.

Dawson was teeming with tens of thousands from all over the world that summer. They put up with the poverty, dirt and mud; being rich one day and broke the next. As quickly as they found their nuggets of gold they spent them on drink and women, or lost their bags of gold dust at the gambling tables. They had been lured there by the promise of ‘lumps of gold are as easy to pluck as potatoes from a well-tilled Ontario field’. Many were there with families who tolerated the ramshackle huts or tents they lived in, with the promise of riches beyond their imagination.

This novel is the second in the Klondike series and is full of interesting and well rounded characters. The era shows the hypocrisy of the Victorian age laid bare for all to see-just as it had been in London. Women could not even show their ankles and always deferred to men. But not so the “percentage girls” who spent long hours dancing and putting on theatre shows for the miners as well as being available to dance with them for the price of a drink all night long.

Constable Richard Sterling, the tall and handsome Mountie is enamoured by Fiona, but his feelings are not reciprocated. He is also very fond of Angus the twelve year old son of Fiona who would like to be a Mountie one day and follows him everywhere. Young Angus has befriended Indian Mary, a native woman accused of murdering Chloe. Her necklace was found at the scene of the dance hall girl’s murder, but did she kill her and Jannis as well, and why?

The build up to the conclusion has all the elements of tension and conflict that a good mystery should have. It also has a surprise ending. Delany has woven characters from Fiona’s past into the story and I was completely captivated to see how the to see how the characters evolved. It is obvious to the reader the amount of research used in this novel.

The third book in this series “Gold Mountain” will be out in April 2012. I look forward to more from Fiona MacGillivray.

Vicki is a member of Crime Writers of Canada, and Capitol Crime Writers. She is also on the board of Wolfe Island’s Scene of the Crime Mystery Festival.



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