Sunday, January 11, 2015
Review: Show Me the Gold by Carolyn Mulford
Show Me the Gold. Carolyn Mulford. Five Star/Cengage, New York, San Francisco, Chicago. ISBN: 978-4329-2990-2. Hardcover $25.95. 304 pp. Release Date, December 17, 2014. Available in bookstores: January 7, 2015.
In her third Phoenix Smith mystery Carolyn Mulford sends her acting Vandiver County sheriff Annalynn Keyser, with Phoenix as her backup, to an abandoned farmhouse in a neighboring county where a group of Cleveland bank robbers is holed up with assault rifles. In the ensuing gun battle, one robber is killed, and youngest one is wounded. Two men seem to have escaped. Sheriff Towson has only an interracial couple helping him, the woman cop being pregnant, hence the plea to Annalynn to bring help.
Phoenix’s dog Achilles, by his behavior, warns Phoenix, Annalynn, Towson, and his deputies not to enter the house. Phoenix guesses the doors are booby-trapped with explosives. The FBI is already involved because it’s a bank robbery. The loot includes some valuable gold coins. Even though Phoenix tries to keep a low profile as to her former CIA undercover work, she is suspected by the FBI of having the gold or knowing where it is. The remaining identified robber, Roscoe Cantree, has served a prison sentence, and also suspects that Phoenix knows where the gold is.
Each of the threesome of women featured in the series, Annalynn, Connie Diamante, and Phoenix are going through personal changes. The town’s newspaper editor, Vernon Kann, wants Annalynn to run for the House of Representatives and step down from being sheriff. Connie, whose musical talent is normally providing little income, is directing a production of the musical Oklahoma at the local Laycock Community College, and Phoenix is having to decide whether she wants to become seriously involved with Stuart, who works with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Stuart’s mother was Phoenix’s high school math teacher and is all for the couple getting serious, but Phoenix is “gun shy” of such a commitment.
The dog Achilles continues to add a wonderful human tone to these novels, as do the various minor small town and rural characters, like the Greek widow of the former shoe store owner, Mrs. Tesopolis. Phoenix gradually becomes more a part of this town where she grew up. She helps Connie with the musical auditions and rehearsals and also Annalynn, who is investigating whether Mrs. Tesopolis is suffering elder abuse at the hands of her daughter and son-in-law.
Although she is still tough and capable of handling very dangerous situations, Phoenix is relaxing and taking her guard down more often. She still manages to be one step ahead of the law enforcement officers, including the FBI man, in any given situation,. Annalynn wants to keep her out of danger, an impossible goal, given Phoenix’s training and background.
This is a fast read, but I like the slower scenes best, where we learn more about the characters. Each book in the series reveals more about the trio of women. Fortunately novel four is already in the works from Five Star for 2015.
Carolyn Mulford decided to become a writer while attending a one-room school near Kirksville, MO. After earning a B.A. in English from Truman State and an M.A. in Journalism at the University of Missouri, she received a different kind of education as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. She worked as a magazine editor in Vienna, Austria, and Washington, D.C. and then became a free-lance writer and editor. She changed her focus to fiction with her return to Missouri. Her first novel, The Feedsack Dress, was honored as Missouri's great read at the 2009 National Book Festival. Her first mystery novels, Show Me the Murder and Show Me the Deadly Deer, came out in 2013. She blogs about her writing on her website, http://www.carolynmulford.com