My review rating: 5 of 5 stars
Enjoy history? Like a mystery? Gold Digger is an absolutely delightful historical
mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time back in 1898, the Yukon Territory, in the rip roaring mining town of Dawson. A native born Californian, I was raised on stories of the 1849 Gold Rush and the founding of San Francisco, so reading about the last great Gold Rush had a lot of familiarity but the great Canada wilderness was an unique setting. Vicki Delany has made the town of Dawson and its inhabitants come alive with a vivid realism of a great historical, without making one feel like they are reading a travelogue or passages quoted from a dry history tome.
The story’s heroine, Fiona MacGillivray, is a woman of great courage and strength of will in a time when most women were thought of as no more than chattel. She owns a saloon, the Savoy, named after the fashionable London hotel. She is a woman of class and breeding, in a place where even a saloon owner can be considered respectable, if she acts as such. She has a 12 year old son Agnus, a smart inquisitive lad who hero worships the local Mountie, Constable Sterling, and wants to become a Mountie himself.
After surviving the arduous journey to get to the Klondike and the near starvation of the first winter, summer is extraordinary beautiful, with fields of glorious wild flowers, warm days, sapphire blue sky. Life is good in Dawson, the Savoy’s business is booming, until Jack Ireland arrives. A newspaper reporter from San Francisco, he immediately makes enemies and within 3 days is found dead, throat cut, on the stage of the Savoy. Was it the rival newspaper man? Or Fiona’s lead singer, Irene, whom Jack physically abused? Or Fiona’s partner, jealously protective of Irene? Or the good woman that Jack called a prostitute in his first story sent back to San Francisco? Or Fiona herself, whom Jack threatened to destroy for standing up for Irene and defending herself? Or someone else?
Not a particularly complex mystery, it is still satisfying all the way around. It works because of the well drawn characters and setting handled with a careful attention to detail.
In my opinion, Gold Digger really strikes gold!
I understand it is the start of a new series, and I look forward to once again visiting Dawson and its interesting and colorful inhabitants.