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Mercury's Rise    by Ann Parker Amazon.com order for
Mercury's Rise
by Ann Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Ann Parker's Mercury's Rise continues her award-winning Silver Rush mystery series set in 1880s Colorado. I was glad to continue my acquaintance with Inez Stannart, one of the partners in the Silver Queen Saloon in Leadville, Colorado. Inez' husband disappeared a year and a half ago. Her small son William is living with her sister Harmoney back East. A reunion is to take place in Manitou Springs Hotel, Colorado, after which Inez hopes to take her son back to Leadville with her.

Manitou Springs has developed into a haven for those suffering from the wasting disease, consumption, or as we know it today, tuberculosis. On the stagecoach journey to the Springs, a man traveling in the same coach as Inez drinks a concoction meant for his wife and dies at Inez's feet. A doctor at the hotel claims he is doing research into the cure for tuberculosis and spends most of his days and nights in his laboratory. His nurse dispenses his concoction to the residents of the hotel each day.

Now that the plot is set up, we can see that all is not as it should be. A horse pulling a wagon dies after eating feed mixed with poisonous berries. Human deaths occur as some Manitou Springs Hotel guests flee the hotel after being coerced by someone to reside at a different resort.

The story then gets a bit complicated but keeps the reader in suspense for the rest of the novel. Parker not only has a way with a plot, but also does her homework as far as the culture of the times. Husbands and wives speak to each other by their last names even after being married for years. The clothing seems exotic at times, definitely upper-class and lovely. The seven and eight course dinners would certainly not get approval today from those trying to entice us to watch our intake. Parker gives us a glimpse of what life would have been like if we all lived at this period of time the 1880s. I think I would opt for staying right where I am today, even with our world-wide problems.

Inez gets a surprise from which she has difficulty recovering. Her brother-in-law also has a revelation for her that she would rather not receive. All and all, a good, good read. If you haven't read the first books in this series, Mercury's Rise can be read as a standalone. I do, however, recommend catching up with Inez in Leadville. It's a delightful series.

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