Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Mercury's Rise
Silver Rush Mysteries, No 4
Ann Parker

Poisoned Pen Press
November 2011 / ISBN: 9781590589618
Historical Mystery/ Amateur Sleuth / Colorado / 1880

Reviewed by L J Roberts

First Sentence: Inez Stannert had nowhere to run.

Leadville saloon-owner Inez Stannert thought she had an idea where her future might be. The re-appearance of a husband, thought to be dead, but an end to that. Instead, she's on her way to Manitou for a reunion with her son, in the care of her sister. Manitou has become a town of health spas, healing waters and "cures." A fellow-coach passenger does of an apparent heart attack, but it's interesting that it was immediately after injecting his "medicine." The man's widow asks Inez to investigate, forcing her to call on the help of her estranged husband. The more Inez investigates, the less healthy the town seems.

Parker's great strength is in taking the reader on a trip back in time. Her descriptions are some of the most evocative, giving one a real sense of the sights, smells, and sounds of the period. She also very strongly outlines the injustice of the laws against women, during the time, but not in a way that seems strident or preachy. She also has the ability to convey strong emotion without becoming maudlin. Back flashes are a plot device which can be confusing. Instead, Ms. Parker deftly employs them to provide illumination to the story.

Her characters are so real, you feel you know them. As one who has been following the series from the beginning, I cheer for Inez, want her to find happiness, felt the pain of her interaction with her son, and found myself exceeding annoyed with her husband. Every time he referred to her as "Darlin," appropriate both for the time and his being Southern, I found myself gritting my teeth in annoyance and hissing slightly as though he was a 20s silent-film character. Now that's effective writing.

Plot-wise, I don't feel this is the strongest book of the series and I did identify the killer fairly early on. I know she has to resolve Inez' personal situation, but hope she does so quickly and moves back to the mystery and suspense which have dominated her previous books. Even so, I certainly wouldn't have missed reading this one.

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

Reviewed 2012