Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gold Mountain by Vicki Delany


In the summer of 1897, Fiona MacGillivray and her eleven year-old son, Angus, arrive in Vancouver in time to hear the news — gold discovered in the Klondike! Fiona immediately sets off for Skagway, Alaska, intent on opening a theatre. After one encounter with infamous gangster Soapy Smith and his henchman Paul Sheridan, she decides to pursue her ambitions on the other side of the border in Dawson City. As a dying man breathes his last, he passes on to Sheridan a map pointing due north to the fabled Gold Mountain, where hills of gold keep the heat from hot springs contained in a valley as warm as California.

Sheridan is determined to become the king of Gold Mountain … and to marry Fiona and make her his queen. Fiona, of course, wants no part of these mad plans. When Sheridan refuses to take no for an answer, Fiona must rely on Corporal Sterling of the North-West Mounted Police, young Angus, and a headstrong assortment of townsfolk to help thwart his scheme.

Gold Mountain is the third Klondike mystery novel written by Canadian author Vicki Delany I’ve had the pleasure of reading. At the heart of all three stories is the strong and ever courageous heroine, Fiona MacGillivray. Her preteen son, Angus, and love interest, Corporal Sterling, of the North-West Mounted Police, also appear in this novel.

In Gold Mountain, we go back into time when Fiona makes the decision to escape the sins of the past and start a new life in the Klondike. The story opens with Fiona and her son travelling from Toronto to Vancouver where they boarded a ship to the Klondike. Once at their destination, readers are treated to vivid descriptions, colorful characters, unruly brawling, and the boom town mentality that existed during the gold rush. Fiona sets up a theatre/saloon type establishment (Savoy Salon and Dance Hall) frequented by the town’s rowdy gold miners, including unscrupulous villains like Soapy Smith and his toady Paul Sheridan. Add to the story a secret map of a location rumored to be the mother lode of all mother lodes, and you have the start of another wonderful mystery. Soon Fiona finds herself kidnapped by Paul Sheridan on a quest to find the vast treasure.  

Canadian author Vicki Delany knows her history. Over the span of her three novels, she has created vivid, memorable characters and unleashed them in the feral setting of Dawson Creek. There is a lot to like in these stories – intrigue, greed, romance, historical detail, wily characters, and a warm-hearted tale of a single mother struggling to scrape out a living in a time and place where women had little or no rights. The prose is smooth and easy, making this a great whodunit! Highly recommended.