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Leaden Skies    by Ann Parker Amazon.com order for
Leaden Skies
by Ann Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Good news. Ann Parker is back with a new novel for fans of her series featuring Inez Stannert. I, for one, am glad. I like Inez, who goes on with life no matter what bad stuff it throws in her path. Her cardshark husband has left her in the boomtown of Leadville, Colorado, in the year 1880. Not a good time or place for a woman to be alone in the world with a small child to raise on her own.

Inez is part owner at least she thinks and hopes she is of a saloon. The fine legal points might prove her wrong. It's tough being a woman at that point in history. No vote for one thing. And Inez is not recognized in polite society because she runs a saloon. Which doesn't really bother her. More pressing issues fill her head. A plus in her life is her affair with the Reverend Justice Sands.

A woman is killed at a local house of ill repute. Zelda, trying to better her lot in life, is accused of the crime and is on the run. Inez to the rescue. She works on discovering how Zelda could be found in a locked room with a dead woman and not be guilty of slitting that woman's throat.

Good plot. Great characters. Really great setting. Along with prose that sets a scene with great care. I could almost feel the mud squelch around my boots; hear the hubbub from men drinking in the saloon; stare in horror as a building goes up in flames; and take in the many smells, good and bad, that would fill the air in a town such as Leadville. Reading, I almost felt as though I had lived in that time.

General and ex-president U. S. Grant makes a brief appearance, giving the man a human face, not just a historical one. Leaden Skies is well worth a read; it's a hard one to put down.

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