Poisoned Pen, 2003 (2003)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
iven that this is Ann Parker's first novel, I decidedly look forward to her second and third. Avoiding the stilted writing that's often typical of a first book, Parker has woven a story of lies, deceit, counterfeiting, murder, lust - you name it,
nez Stannert, along with her partner Abe Jackson, runs a saloon/gambling palace in Leadville, a Rocky Mountain boomtown. Her husband Mark has disappeared. Her good friend Joe Rose is trampled to death by a horse. Inez has to send her small son to her sister for a better climate for his health. She recognizes that a suitor is not what he seems, and a new interim minister also appears to be something other than what he claims.
nd this is just the beginning of a story that takes us back to 1879 in a silver mining town. Leadville has new buildings, muddy streets, a saloon every few blocks - and men streaming into town, looking to stake a claim and make their fortune. As the townspeople coped with the mud, I could almost feel my own foot squoosh after slipping off a wooden boardwalk to land in the muck.
he plot gets convoluted at times but moves quickly with tight writing, fast paced action, plenty of suspense, and characters that might truly people a town like Leadville. Inez has a murky past, as do most of the players. But you can't help loving her grit, determination, ability to look at herself as she really is, and her softness when she accepts the attentions of a man.
is a fun read.
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