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Leaden Skies
Inez Stannert Book 3

by Ann Parker


Leaden Skies is Ann Parker's third novel to feature saloonkeeper Inez Stannert in the 1880s silver boom town of Leadville, Colorado.  Now that might sound like enough trouble for any woman, but Inez has never had any problem finding a lot more.

This time troubles come from a mixture of her own actions and circumstances beyond her control. Former President and Civil War hero General Ulysses S. Grant has arrived in town, bringing an entourage with agendas of their own and bringing to prominence the different agendas of some of Leadville's populace. More personally, this means Inez has the expense of stocking up on quantities of the General's reportedly favorite tipple, just in case he should visit, while her lover, Reverend Sands, has taken the opportunity of needing a companion to various planned events to force Inez's hand in making their relationship more public. Which also means addressing her current marital status, a year after her husband Mark disappeared.

That disappearance left Inez and Abe as partners in the saloon, since Mark had always treated them as full partners. Problem is there's nothing official on paper recognizing that partnership, meaning the saloon still technically belongs wholly to Mark, or if he's dead, to their son. With Inez being female and Abe a black man, that's not exactly the basis for future security. Trying to give herself the security of something truly her own, Inez gets into a silent partnership with a local madam that just keeps involving her deeper and deeper in the trouble all over town. Trouble that only begins with the murder of one of the working girls at Frisco Flo's "Parlor House" and having the never friendly eye of "The Hatchet, " Leadville's policeman and collector of fines, fees and taxes, fixed on Inez as a result, just looking for an excuse.

There are surprisingly few historical mysteries set in the American West. This is a highly enjoyable series, full of detail about its unusual setting, with an unconventional heroine to go with interesting stories filled with people you care about to help fill that void. Ann Parker has a straightforward, easy reading style, with this book noticeably more tightly written than the prior, to show that she also works hard at her craft. Recommended.

Reviews of other titles in the Silver Rush series

Silver Lies #1  [review]
Iron Ties #2  
Leaden Skies #3  [review]
Mercury's Rise #4   
[review 1] [review 2]
What Gold Buys [
A Dying Note #6


The Book

Poisoned Pen Press
July 2009
Historical Mystery 1880 / Leadville, CO
NOTE: Ann Parker's first book, Silver Lies (also reviewed on, won the Willa Award for Historical Fiction and the Colorado Gold Award. It was also a finalist for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award.

The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2009
© 2009