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The Silk Train Murder: A Mystery of the Klondike

Overview

At the turn of the last century, sleek steam liners carried a fortune in silk from the Orient to Vancouver. The costly material, insured by the day, was rushed to New York in specially designed silk trains, which became the target of every crook across the continent. Finding a body on the railroad docks sends John Lansdowne Grenville racing to uncover a killer in a frontier town where he knows no one. Having failed to strike it rich in the Klondike, Grenville has taken a job guarding the silk trains, along with ...

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New York 2007 Hard cover First edition. First edition first printing New in new dust jacket. Signed by author. First edition first printing of this author's first novel. SIGNED ... by the author on the title page. In fine / fine unread condition. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 313 p. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

At the turn of the last century, sleek steam liners carried a fortune in silk from the Orient to Vancouver. The costly material, insured by the day, was rushed to New York in specially designed silk trains, which became the target of every crook across the continent. Finding a body on the railroad docks sends John Lansdowne Grenville racing to uncover a killer in a frontier town where he knows no one. Having failed to strike it rich in the Klondike, Grenville has taken a job guarding the silk trains, along with his friend and fellow gold-hunter Sam Scott. When Grenville and Scott come across the body of a gangster on the wharf one snowy morning, Scott is quickly arrested for murder. Grenville is determined to clear his friend, and his hunt for the real killer takes him to the seedy side of the city; to burlesque halls, gambling joints and down along Dupont Street — two blocks of brothels and opium dens along the reeking mudflats. Can Grenville sort out silk trains, smuggling rings, opium dealers, houses of ill repute, power struggles, blackmail and betrayal in time to trap a killer and save his friend?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Neither very mysterious nor set in the Klondike, Canadian author Rowse's debut drowns out its straightforward whodunit plot with somewhat awkward period detail. John Lansdowne Grenville, an English nobleman's fourth son, sought his fortune in the New World, but came up bust after a stint in the Yukon gold fields. Later, in Vancouver in 1899, Grenville runs into his former partner, Sam Scott, who convinces him to sign on as a guard for a silk train, a high-speed train that rushes raw silk shipped from the Orient to Vancouver onto the East Coast. When a body is found near the train, Scott is arrested for murder. Grenville declares himself a detective and sets about attempting to clear his friend's name, taking on young errand boy Trent Davis and bored society girl Emily Turner as sidekicks. Perhaps the proposed series will flesh out the characters and setting, but Rowse does little more than set the stage in this unprepossessing kickoff. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Having failed to find his fortune in the Klondike gold rush, Grenville, the fourth son of an English baron, takes a job in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his gold-hunting friend Sam Scott. The two must guard specially designed railway cars carrying imported Oriental silk from Vancouver to New York City; they foil a sabatoge attempt their first day on the job, but when a man is murdered 24 hours later, Sam is arrested, and Grenville must find the real killer. Debut novelist Rowse has written a fairly involving mystery, drawing on a fascinating, little-known bit of Western history, but some things may perplex readers. Most of the action takes place in Vancouver, rather than in the remote Klondike gold fields as the subtitle implies, and Grenville is repeatedly knocked out as he walks through a door, which gets old fast. Despite these quibbles, this is a solid series start that might appeal to patrons who enjoy historicals and mysteries set in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and western Canada. Rowse lives in Vancouver.


—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
Murder, thievery and general lawlessness during the Klondike gold rush. Young English gentleman John Lansdowne Grenville is heading home from a Canadian adventure in 1899 when he learns of his father's death and his brother William's ascendancy to the baronial title. So it's back to the Klondike for black sheep Grenville, where he's pleased to run into Sam Scott, the ex-partner who regales him with stories of adventure and enlists him as a partner in his new silk transport business. Scott suspects his rival Benton and his lieutenant Jackson of sabotage. When Jackson's found dead of a gunshot wound to the chest, Scott is swiftly arrested, and Grenville must exonerate his only friend. A green but eager lad named Trent latches on to Grenville and soon becomes a bumbling Watson to his Holmes. Jackson had many enemies, but local power brokers are content to let hapless Scott take the fall. Scott's sister Franny, a sexy fan dancer who introduced Scott to Jackson, provides Grenville with his first lead. Meantime, young Emily Turner and her Chinese friend Wong Xi Yan (aka Bertie), hearing that Grenville's a detective, ask his help in recovering some missing opium. The thrill-seeking Emily can't resist her own sleuthing-or spinning elaborate yarns to deceive her parents. Rowse's first novel, kicking off a proposed series, offers many promising ingredients, but both her plotting and her prose need work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786719464
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/28/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon Rowse lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has a degree in history with an emphasis on the development of the North American West, and has a particular interest in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896-99. Sharon has always loved mysteries and writing and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Crime Writers of Canada. This is her first novel and the start of a series featuring John Lansdowne Granville. Visit her website at www.sharonrowse.com.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 31, 2010

    Different

    This is a first novel of an intended series by Ms. Rowse. That silk was more valuable than gold produced an interesting arena for the author, which she handles quite well. The prose is good and flows nicely, revealing an author competent to manipulate her characters in their environment.
    I found two problems with the book. First, the plot features three siblings: two sisters and a brother. Both the brother and one sister believe the younger sister might be guilty of the murder of a bad guy. Oddly, when the innocent brother is jailed for the crime, neither he nor his sister will say or do anything to help his cause. Oh Please! To my way of thinking this is absurd.
    Second, toward the end where the plot really moves to a happy conclusion, the book becomes wordy in a special way. Things don't happen, aren't described as events in real time. Instead the movement of the plot is through conversation. Events are only talked about, not experienced, hence the sequencing toward conclusion feels hurried and lacks a sense of reality. Conversations, words, are poor substitutes when events are needed.
    Lastly, I think Ms. Rowse did not make the most of a very interesting environment. For example, she could have described a trainjacking by thugs, thereby engendering a respectful fear of the bad guys. And more could have been done with the business of transporting silk from Vancouver to New York.
    All in all, I'm glad I read the book. I found the subject matter novel and interesting. With her considerable writing skills and a tincture of boldness, I'm sure Ms. Rowse will create success in her series.

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