All sorts of things can keep the writer of a debut mystery from finishing and/or publishing a second book. But Ann Parker's Silver Lies, which came out in 2003, was such a stunning piece of work that I'm especially delighted to report that its sequel,
is just out from Poisoned Pen Press. The other good news is that Silver Lies should be out in paperback at about the same time.
Here's what I wrote when it was first published:
Is there anything better than a smart, tough woman solving crimes while moving through a freshly-researched portion of our own history? Margaret Lawrence's books about post-Revolutionary War Maine midwife Hannah Trevor (Hearts and Bones, Blood Red Roses) come to mind, as do Dianne Day’s stories (Emperor Norton's Ghost, Beacon Street Mourning) of Fremont Jones, a young woman from Boston who arrives in San Francisco just before the 1905 earthquake and begins a career as a detective. Miriam Grace Monfredo, who writes a splendid series about librarian Glynis Tryon (Through A Gold Eagle,) which begins just before the Civil War in upstate New York, is another prime example.
It’s no stretch at all to place Ann Parker’s Inez Stannert on this list. Like the other women in the group, she is both of her time – a handsome, obviously educated wife supporting and playing second fiddle to a flashier gambler husband in 1879 Colorado – and a link to the future. When her husband disappears, Inez proves she can overcome that and other tragedies to triumph in a male world by taking over the running of their saloon and helping to clear up several murders, scams and distressing puzzles.
Parker is a science writer with a degree in literature and the ability to sum up in a few sharp sentences the tawdry power of a frontier boomtown like Leadville, where a sudden surge in silver could burnish everyone’s dreams. Like the wonderful black and white photograph of historic Leadville on its cover (the credit for which admits “Image altered”), her first novel, which won a regional writing contest, combines a kind of gritty grandeur with a knowing wisdom about the way the present shapes our perceptions of the past.