First Sentence: Not my hands!
Inez Stannert and her ward, Antonia have moved from Leadville, Colorado to San Francisco where they live above the music store owned by a renowned local violinist. Inez works in the shop and teaches piano including to a young musician whose badly beaten body has been found on the banks of the Mission Creek canal. Inez her life and the secrets she’s keeping may fall apart when a friend from Leadville shows up with Wolter Roeland de Bruijn, a man who knew Antonia’s late mother, and a man looking for his son. When the link between the two young men is made, can Inez discover his killer without her reputation being destroyed?
The opening is violent and difficult to read. It is clear there is an important link, but one wonders whether the first chapter truly adds to the story or could have been omitted.
What follows is the introduction of the protagonist, Inez, and many of the supporting characters. One thing that makes Inez particularly interesting and admirable is her determination and her business acumen. She has found a way to help other women support themselves with small women-owned businesses while building security for herself and Antonia. There is information on Antonia’s past included in the story that explains her behavior and tendency toward self-reliance. She knows what it is to be an outsider and recognizes it in others. There is also a scene of great tenderness.
There are a number of other wonderful characters who enrich the plot. Antonia’s friend Mick Lynch is a member of a large Irish family and son of the cop. John Hue is a Chinese purveyor of curiosities and repairer of stringed instruments and woodwinds. Patrick May, the young black man, loves music and just wants to play the piano. Elizabeth O’Connell is a female Pinkerton agent. These, among others, give flavor and dimension to the story.
One is given a good look at life in this time, but it is the life of ordinary people. Yes, there are scenes at the still-fabulous Palace Hotel, but the bulk of the story involves the working class which is a rather refreshing change. Parker also addresses the issues of attitudes toward the blacks and Chinese immigrants, and the events surrounding the attempts at unionizing musicians. Even so, there is a nod to today—“Mark me,” he continued, “there will come a time when the oppression by the moneyed powers of this country will be so great it will no longer be endured.”
There is so much wonderful historical information included that adds veracity to the story. When reading historical mysteries, the Author’s Notes are always important and informative. It’s fun to learn which things are real and which were invented or changed for the purpose of the story.
“A Dying Note” includes very good plot twists, a surprising ending, and a promise of continuing associations in the future.
A DYING NOTE (Hist Mys-Inez Stannert-San Francisco, CA- 1881) – G+
Parker, Ann – 6th in seriesPoisoned Pen Press – April 2018