Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press 
Release Date: September 2003 
ISBN:   1590580729
Awards:  
Format Reviewed: Hardback 
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Genre:   Historical Crime [1879 Leadville, Colorado]
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde 
Reviewer Notes:  

Silver Lies
By Ann Parker

     Leadville, just after it had started to become a city, is a place out of a western with saloons, brothels, miners, lynch mobs and marching bands. Life is cheap and the law is not always on the side of the angels, so it is not surprising that assayer Joe Rose is found dead outside Inez Stannert's saloon. Inez is a lady with a past, whose husband left town in a hurry eight months before and who now runs the Silver Queen with her black partner, Abe Jackson. It falls to her to investigate the case and try to ensure that justice is done for Joe and that his widow and son get what is theirs. This is going to be harder than she thinks, as she has no real idea who her friends truly are, and she is going to uncover a plot that goes as deep as one of Leadville's celebrated silver mines.

     When I was in school, I viewed any history dealing with "western expansion" as being too sensational and generally just plain fun to be truly classed as history. Therefore, it is not essential to be the sort of reader who normally reads this type of thing to enjoy this tangled tale. Read it for its gutsy depiction of life in Leadville--who can resist a novel that features Bat Masterson--and for its gritty lack of coziness. Inez is a strong woman in a man's world who manages to hold her own and get some pleasure and satisfaction out of it, as well as a living, so it is hard not to want to find out what will befall her, and thus the pages turn. It is true, however, that this is not really a book that needs its 400+ pages, and in the middle it does tend to sag rather when nothing new is happening and much old ground is being re-trodden to no real purpose. This aside, the plot is intricate and the leading characters the sort I hope will be reappearing in another (slightly shorter) book soon. Anybody who has read Michelle Black's The Second Glass of Absinthe (also reviewed on this site) and who wants to read more about Leadville at this particular time need look no further. As with that book, I can imagine reading groups everywhere having a ball discussing this one. Well worth a look.