What Gold Buys
by Ann Parker



Poisoned Pen Press, 2016. ISBN 978-1-464-20623-8.
Reviewed by Mary Jo Doig
Posted on 08/16/2017

Fiction: Mystery; Fiction: Historical

Autumn, 1880 in the Rocky Mountains' Leadville, CO is the idyllic setting for this excellent murder mystery. Amid winter's approaching chill and ever-present danger on the streets, the high stakes for great wins and losses abound everywhere in the Silver Rush community. Fascinating characters inhabit the nooks and crannies of the town, primarily Inez Stannert, operator and part-owner of the Silver Queen Saloon, along with part-owner African-American Abe Jackson, and part-owner Mark Stannert, Inez' former husband, just back from a fling that didn't work out.

I loved the author's ability to lift me from my quiet solitude into a bustling historical time brought so fully alive on each page that I felt present everywhere. I experienced the danger of walking after dark in shadowy parts of town, the discovery of a young, sweet murdered woman whose lifestyle differed from the average resident; I participated in the life of her young orphaned daughter, Antonia, who posed as a boy, Tony, in order to increase her safety and ability to earn a bare living on the streets. I walked with this smart observant girl as she courageously explored and eventually unwrapped the obfuscated facts behind her mother's murder. The exciting, often risky sights, sounds, and activities of life in the saloon linger with me still.

There is no dislike to this book in any sense. What Gold Buys is my first Ann Parker read, which brings with it the pleasure of knowing I now have four more Silver Rush Mysteries awaiting me. If you enjoy historical mystery, I invite you to open and dive into the lively pages of this book. If you're familiar with this series, you already know what awaits you.

Read an excerpt from this book.


Ann Parker earned degrees in Physics and English Literature before falling into a career as a science writer. The only thing more fun for her than slipping oblique Yeats references into a fluid dynamics article is delving into the past. Her ancestors include a Leadville blacksmith, a Colorado School of Mines professor, and a gandy dancer. Ann, her husband, two children, and two pet rats reside near Silicon Valley, whence they have weathered numerous high-tech boom-and-bust cycles. She's a member of Mystery Writers of America and Women Writing the West. Silver Lies is her first novel, and it was a winner in the 2002 Colorado Gold Writing Contest (mystery category). What Gold Buys is Parker's fifth book in her Silver Rush Mystery series. It was a finalist in the 2016 Sarton competition. Visit her website.

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