Author: Vicki Delany
Publication: 2009/Rendezvous Crime, Toronto
ISBN #: 978-1-894-91780-3
# of pages: 293
Discovered at Crime Writers of Canada
Read in library e-book format
Also available in paper format
Link to author’s website: Vicki Delany
Fiona MacGillivray was raised in Scotland and lived in London, entertaining wealthy men who kept her in the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. Then things went sour and she moved her talents and her young son Angus to Canada, first to Toronto and ultimately to Dawson, in Yukon Territory. Being independent, self-assured and feisty will be character traits that any woman would need to survive the middle of the gold rush in 1898, in the far wilderness of Canada. Fiona is thriving: part owner of the Savoy saloon and dance hall with her partner and head bartender Ray Walker, she has the best dancers in town.
A weekend visit to the saloon to look at the books changes everything. She and Angus practically trip over the body of Jack Ireland. Constable Richard Sterling of the North-West Mounted Police is quickly brought in to investigate but will any of the townspeople cooperate? Ireland, an American reporter, had been in town for only a few days yet had managed to alienate just about anyone he came across.
Graham Donohue, another more likeable American reporter, seems to know more than he is saying. Fiona’s headline dancer Irene was beaten up by Ireland and since Ray is sweet on Irene, he was not happy about it. Fiona has to fend off suitors while trying to figure out who the murderer is in order to protect her business. Meanwhile, Angus has decided he can help his hero Constable Sterling solve the mystery.
As an historical novel, this book was quite interesting. It paints a human picture of Dawson and living on the frontier: the many bars open virtually all day, the street of prostitutes, the tired dusty miners who will pay for a dance just to bring some cheer to their lives. There are many nice background touches, such as the horse whining in fear in the street while Fiona converses with someone upstairs, and the bartenders leaving their fingernails long so they could catch some of the gold dust which was used as payment. As a mystery though, it is rather lightweight. The murder is discovered on page one and it is almost 100 pages of scene setting before the investigation gains momentum. The suspects are predictable however the final scenes are exciting.
Rating: (°_°) worth reading
Notable sentence: “Her teeth were good for a woman of her age and class…”
Vicki Delany is an Ontario writer who started writing only on Sundays and after publishing three books, was able to retire from her bank system analyst job and write full time. This book is part of the Klondike Mystery series: Gold Fever, Gold Mountain and Gold Web (due out 2014). Delany has also written the Constable Molly Smith series and several standalone mysteries.