The Silver Rush Mystery Series

Mortal Music

Book 7 now available!

In this new adventure in the award-winning Silver Rush mystery series, pianist Inez Stannert must track down a murderer before he silences a famous vocalist―forever…

All Inez Stannert wants for Christmas is for the struggling music store she owns in San Francisco to be a success. When diva Theia Carrington Drake asks Inez to be her accompanist for several high-profile personal appearances, Inez is intrigued. This could be the chance she was waiting for—a way to make some extra money and bring her store into the limelight of the city’s polite society to enhance her business.

But things are far from pitch perfect. An unknown threat is stalking Theia; her pet bird is found slain, and her signature gown is destroyed. Soon, Inez realizes that a murderer is stalking the city’s opera halls, and that it’s only a matter of time before Theia is his next victim. She’ll have to enlist the help of private investigator Wolter Roeland de Bruijn and uncover the killer before Theia’s celebrated voice is silenced—permanently.

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A Dying Note

Book 6

It’s autumn of 1881, and Inez Stannert, still the co-owner of Leadville, Colorado’s Silver Queen saloon, is settled in San Francisco with her young ward, Antonia Gizzi. Inez has turned her business talents to managing a music store, hoping to eventually become an equal partner in the enterprise with the store’s owner, a celebrated local violinist.

Inez’s carefully constructed life for herself and Antonia threatens to tumble about her ears when the badly beaten body of a young musician washes up on the filthy banks of San Francisco’s Mission Creek canal. Inez and Antonia become entangled in the mystery of his death when the musician turns out to have ties to Leadville, ties that threaten to expose Inez’s notorious past. And they aren’t the only ones searching for answers. Wolter Roeland de Bruijn, “finder of the lost,” has also been tasked with ferreting out the perpetrators and dispensing justice in its most final form. Leadville’s leading madam Frisco Flo, an unwilling visitor to the city with a Leadville millionaire, is on the hook as well, having injudiciously financed the young musician’s journey to San Francisco in the first place.

Time grows short as Inez and the others uncover long-hidden secrets and unsettled scores. With lives and reputations on the line, the tempo rises until the investigation’s final, dying note.

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Named Best Mystery in True West Magazine’s “Best of the West 2019”
Finalist for the Macavity/Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery
Finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Mystery
CIPA EVVY Award: 1st place in the Mystery/Crime/Detective category
CIPA EVVY Award: 2nd place in the Historical Fiction category
Finalist for the Will Rogers Medallion Award in the “Western Maverick” category
Finalist for Mystery for the Foreword INDIE Award
Finalist for the “Lefty” Best Historical Novel Award, Left Coast Crime
Long-listed for the Martin Cruz Smith Award in Suspense/ Mystery (an NCIBA Golden Poppy Award)

What Gold Buys

Book 5

Autumn 1880 in the Rocky Mountains brings frost, snow, and the return of Silver Queen Saloon owner Inez Stannert to Leadville, Colorado.

In this silver rush boomtown, those who are hungry for material riches seek their fortunes in precious metals. Others, hungry for spiritual relief, seek to pierce the veil between life and death with the help of fortunetellers, mediums, and occultists. Deep in the twisted byways of Leadville’s Stillborn Alley, soothsayer Drina Gizzi awaits the promised arrival of her benefactor, the mysterious Mr. Brown. When she is found murdered, strangled with a set of silver and gold corset laces, no one seems to care except the three who find her body—Inez, her lover Reverend Sands, and Drina’s young daughter, Antonia. The mystery surrounding Drina’s death deepens when her body vanishes without a trace.

As Inez and Antonia band together to seek out Drina’s killer, they unearth disturbing evidence of underground resurrectionists, long-held grievances, and white-hot revenge. Meanwhile, Inez’s husband, Mark Stannert, true to his word that he only “plays to win,” contrives to drive Inez and Sands apart, gambling that he can convince her to abandon her plans for divorce. But what can gold buy, after all? A new life? Freedom from the past? Truth and justice for those murdered and unmourned? Or a final passage for Inez and Antonia into an unmarked grave and the world of the dead?

And what of Mr. Brown, whose missing presence hovers over all, like a spirit from beyond?

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Finalist for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award
Finalist for the Sarton Women’s Book Award (Historical Fiction)
Finalist for the Macavity Historical Novel Award
Finalist for the Will Rogers Medallion Award (Western Romance)

Mercury’s Rise

Book 4

Inez Stannert, one of the partners in the Silver Queen Saloon in Leadville, Colorado, travels to a fashionable summer retreat for a reunion with her son, now a toddler in the care of her sister. Manitou, at the foot of Pike’s Peak, was not just a spa tourism destination in the summer of 1880–it was often a last resort for those ill with tuberculosis.

Inez and her photographer friend Susan chose the stage coach for the scenery, but their journey to Manitou turns lethal when East Coast businessman Edward Pace grows faint, swigs some medicine, and dies under their horrified gaze. On their arrival at the posh Mountain Springs House, Pace’s widow rejects a weak heart theory and begs Inez to investigate. As Inez digs deeper, she uncovers the shady side of spa tourism including spurious claims, profiteering from the coming bonanza in medicinal waters and miracle cures, and medical practitioners who kindle false hopes in the desperate and the dying.

Pace’s sudden demise is not the only event that tarnishes Inez’s hopes of a happy reunion with her son and sister. Mark Stannert has reappeared after a year and a half’s unexplained absence. Now she must fight to hold on to her child and the life she has built for herself in an era where “independent woman” is an oxymoron.

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Finalist for the Macavity Historical Novel Award
Winner of the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award
Finalist for the Agatha Best Historical Mystery Award
Finalist for the Colorado Book Award
Finalist for the Willa Literary Award
Recommended Read” of 2011: Colorado Country Life Magazine
Favorite Read” in Western Mysteries: True West Magazine

Leaden Skies

Book 3

The summer of 1880: although possible investment in Leadville’s silver mines is a main reason that former president and Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant is now touring this city at the top of the Rockies, others in his retinue and in town are enticed by other visions. As part owner of the Silver Queen Saloon, Inez Stannert has often observed the ruination that comes from yielding to temptation. Still, that knowledge hasn’t stopped Inez from striking a backroom deal with upscale brothel madam Frisco Flo, a deal that Inez gambles will make her financially independent…

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Finalist for the Colorado Book Award

Iron Ties

Book 2

“The great questions of the time are not decided by speeches and majority decisions…but by iron and blood” —Otto von Bismarck, 1862

The railroad is coming west, all the way to Leadville and its rich Rocky Mountain mines, not to mention millionaires. And who is coming to celebrate the arrival of the Denver & Rio Grande but Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States and former commander of the Union armies. Like other residents in the Colorado boom town this summer of 1880, Inez Stannert regards the news as mixed. With her business partnership in the Silver Queen Saloon shaky and the bonds of family tightening (her husband is still missing and her baby is still back East), Inez doesn’t need the lawlessness of Leadville to turn, once again, into murder. But Inez isn’t the only one with iron ties to the past. Some folks have wicked memories of the war, others a stake in the competing railroad lines. And Inez’s friend, photographer Susan Carothers, gets caught in the crossfire. . . .

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Winner of the Colorado Book Award
Honorable Mention for the Arizona Book Award

Silver Lies

Book 1

It happened in Silicon Valley. In Sutter’s Mill. And in Leadville.

They all came to Leadville with the same purpose:
Get in. Get rich. Get out.

As 1879 is drawing to a close, this Rocky Mountain boom town has infected the world with silver fever. Investors, confidence men, merchants, miners… all flock to Leadville looking for the next strike. Women join the rush as well—among them, saloon owner Inez Stannert. When a prominent mining assayer is found trampled behind her establishment, she’s determined to unravel the mystery of his death. Her search takes her from the mines and banks of Leadville to the exclusive parlor houses of Denver. Along the way, she finds that lies and secrets run deep in Colorado and many will stop at nothing to get rich…

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“Best Mysteries of 2003”—Pick by Publishers Weekly and the Chicago Tribune
Winner of the Willa Literary Award
Winner of the Colorado Gold Award
Finalist of the Spur Award
Finalist of the Bruce Alexander Historical Award

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