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.
In an era of silk trains and Klondike gold, a body found on the railroad docks sends gentleman/adventurer John Lansdowne Granville racing to uncover a killer in a frontier town where he knows no one. Failing to strike it rich in the Klondike, Granville has taken a job guarding the silk trains, along with his friend and fellow gold-hunter Sam Scott. When Granville and Scott find gangster Clive Jackson's body on the wharf one snowy morning, Scott is arrested for murder. Neither the police nor Scott himself seem to have any interest in clearing Scott’s name. And in Vancouver, they hang murderers.
Granville 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.
Granville finds allies in Emily Turner, the emancipated daughter of a very Victorian father, and Trent Davis, a young, would-be silk train robber, who is determined to go straight. The trail to find Jackson’s killer leads him to glamorous fan dancers, crime bosses, an enemy from the Klondike, a former Oxford schoolmate, an ambitious young reporter and a pair of Dupont street prostitutes.
Can Granville 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?
“… a big, bubbling stewpot of a book!… delicious…” Betty Webb, Mystery Scene Magazine
“…an impressive debut…lots of colorful historical detail...” Booklist starred review
“…one of Canada’s newest mystery writers to watch.” Quill & Quire starred review
“… a solid series start…” Library Journal
“…draw(s) on a fascinating, little-known bit of Western history… a well-researched and lively story…” Seattle Times
“Sharon Rowse strikes gold with a cavalcade of colorful characters. Climb aboard. The Silk Train Murder will take you on quite a ride!” Chris Grabenstein, Anthony award-winning author of Tilt a Whirl
“This is one of those rare books…that does not hit you over the head with how much the author knows about the place and period. Not that Rowse hasn't done her homework. She has, but the details are introduced subtly without fanfare, or any attempt to show off. Characters are well drawn and sympathetic…I look forward to reading a sequel.”-- Roberta Rich, Best-selling author of The Midwife of Venice
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.