Back in December I posted an interview with Barbara Pronin but didn’t have room on my reading calendar to review the book.
This was my first open date and today
I am excited to share my thoughts.
The Miner’s Canary
Setting – South Dakota
Touchpoint Press (October 25, 2022)
Paperback : 326 pages
ISBN-10 : 1956851410
ISBN-13 : 978-1956851410
Kindle ASIN : B0BBS7M1MD
“A smart heroine with a haunted past . . . a who-done-it full of twists and turns.”
Haunted by a death she might have prevented, single mom Julie Goldman returns to the brooding Black Hills of South Dakota to turn the old Victorian she inherits from her aunt into a bed-and-breakfast inn. But mysterious deaths are piling up, and a series of vaguely escalating threats convince her that someone wants her gone. When daughter Lu is run off the road while riding her bike, Julie knows she must find and stop whoever has them squarely in their sights.
Julie Goldman takes a trip from where she is living in California to South Dakota to get her aunt’s affairs in order following her death. She had left there after her cousin was murdered several years ago and never returned. She was surprised to reconnect with some old friends and make some new ones. After the funeral, she returns to L.A. to find the hotel she worked at as an event planner had been sold and she was out of a job. With nothing to keep her there, she returns to Deadwood and decides to turn the Victorian home she grew up in and recently inherited into a bed and breakfast.
Strangely after her aunt’s death one of her high school friends died in a car accident. Then another woman she had met died in a freaky fall. She had also started receiving threats. The final straw was her daughter being run off the road while riding her bike. Something is amiss in Deadwood and she thinks it is connected to the murder of her cousin all those years ago. But starting her own investigation draws the attention of the killer. Can she stay alive long enough to get justice for her family and friends or will she be the killer’s next victim?
I escaped right into this story!
Julie Goldman, a widowed mother to daughter Lulu was a wonderful protagonist. She is strong, intelligent, inquisitive, and friendly with great organizational skills and a terrific mom to her daughter. Lulu is a mature 11-year-old who loves to ice skate with hopes to be an Olympian. Penny is their nanny and a great friend. She has graduated from law school and is trying to pass the California bar exam. While she is waiting for her latest test results she travels to Deadwood with Julia and Lulu. Julia meets or reconnects with several people in Deadwood. Chief of Police Banks goes above and beyond the norm to help Julie feel safe and welcome. There is a definite attraction there. Harrison Palmer was her aunt’s attorney and helps Julie with all the in and outs of her inheritance including a long-lost relative that falls out of the woodwork. I enjoyed the way all these core characters and others we meet have layers that get peeled back as the story continues.
Not everyone is happy that Julie has returned to Deadwood to stay. The type of threats she is receiving makes that point clearly known. It also has her thinking her aunt’s death may not have been from natural causes. But the threats don’t frighten her away, they make her more determined to stay and find the truth. The clues started to fall into place for me sooner than they did for Julie but let me tell you I was at 97% / Chapter Fifty-Six when I realized I was literally on the end of my seat. All of what I had been thinking was right and was playing out in a very scary way. I held my breath and was reading at breakneck speed. Ms. Pronin set up an ending that had my heart racing. I loved the epic twist.
My husband and I along with our infant son vacationed in South Dakota many years ago and it is a place we have always wanted to return. We even stayed overnight in Deadwood. I enjoyed all the descriptions of the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. Seeing them through Lulu’s eyes brought me back to exactly how I felt when I saw them for the first time. It also made me even more anxious to plan a return. Sans the murders, of course.
The Miner’s Canary is a suspenseful mystery with a slow build to a heck of a crescendo. It was truly impossible to put down and has stuck with me since I turned the final page. I have to put it on my Best Reads of 2023 list. This story is a must-read! I am not sure if the author has planned a sequel but these are characters I would gladly visit again.
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More About Barbara Pronin
A former actress, probation officer, substitute teacher, and news editor, Barbara Pronin has authored two non-fiction books in addition to six previous mysteries including three as Barbara Nickolae. A contributing editor to RISMedia with a passion for music, dark chocolate, and the L.A. Dodgers, she lives in Orange County, California, where she is currently completing a historical novel set in World War II in the Netherlands.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”