Solomon Spring by Michelle Black
WinterSun Press, Copyright 2002
Trade Paperback, 314 pages
WinterSun Press, Copyright 2002
Trade Paperback, 314 pages
A natural wonder, sacred for centuries, is about to be profaned-but not if Eden Murdoch can prevent it. She and her young daughter have returned to the mystical Solomon Spring to seek solace after the death of Eden's Cheyenne husband. But when the owner of the Solomon Spring Company decides to bottle its mystical waters, Eden decides she must stop this travesty. Inspired by Thoreau's essays on civil disobedience, she enjoys some early success, but makes deadly enemies in the process.
Meanwhile, her past races to catch up to her: Brad Randall, Eden's one-time lover, brings the astounding news that the son lost to Eden as an infant fourteen years before has been located and is living nearby. The joy of her reunion with Brad and with her son is clouded by the reappearance of Lawrence Murdoch, Eden's long-estranged first husband. The warring couple plunges into a vicious custody battle. When Murdoch is found shot to death in an alley, Brad is jailed and sentenced to hang.
To save him, Eden can must discover the solution to the murder, and bring the real killer to justice at the edge of Solomon Spring.
Solomon Spring by Michelle Black is historical fiction termed a novel of suspense from the Victorian West It is the second book in a series of books featuring Eden Murdoch and Brad Randall. The first is An Uncommon Enemy. The third is The Second Glass of Absinthe.
In this outing Eden heads to Washington to get someone to help the Cheyenne who are facing starvation since the government has failed to send them the food they promised. She is also hoping to stop the desecration of Solomon Springs, a sacred site to the tribes. In the meantime Brad, who is the Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, becomes frustrated that no action is being taken to help the Cheyenne. He takes a leave of absence and heads west. He is also hoping to tell Eden that her son, whom she thought was killed as an infant, survived. Eventually they both end up back in Kansas.
And that is only a small part of the beginning of the story. There is much more. I have a feeling that Michelle Black is a story teller at heart, so she keeps the plot moving quickly forward and does so with competent writing. You will not be bored reading Solomon Spring.
While there is non-stop action in this historical western, there really is no suspense. The mystery itself is quite thin. It is obvious who done it right away. Additionally the mystery part of the novel doesn't even start until around page 195. I began reading Solomon Spring because it was supposed to be a "novel of suspense, a mystery, so I was quite disappointed by the lack of suspense.
However, it is most certainly a fast paced plot, with the characters moving from one scene to another at a brisk pace. I have a feeling that if you are a fan of historical fiction you will probably appreciate Solomon Spring much more than I did, especially if you begin reading it knowing it is not really a mystery novel. The historical details all seemed quite appropriate for the time.
Recommended for me, highly recommended for fans of historical fiction
Disclosure: I received this novel from the author through Goodreads First Reads.
The pale winter sun cast milk shadows on the brick floor of Brad Randall's cell as it shone down from the high, barred window. He had opened the wooden shutter to gain some fresh air to breathe. The draft from the window was bracing cold, but at least it offered a respite from the stale, lifeless atmosphere of his cell. The remnants of dried urine and vomit from previous tenants seemed to live in the mortar between the bricks and endured despite the weekly mopping the floor received.
Unfortunately, opening the shutter let in the unwelcome sounds from outside as well. The sawing and the hammering, the occasional shout of one workman to another--he did not need a reminder of what they were building. A gallows. opening
But how could he explain to an eight-year-old boy with mere words on paper that he stood at this fearful precipice because of his love for a woman, a woman who was not his son's mother? How could he possibly make the boy, whom he loved so dearly, understand the impossible complexities that added up to
a single human life, his life?
His thoughts traveled back to the first day of September last, less than five months ago. It now seemed like another lifetime. The events of that day had set in motion much of what had brought him to this sorry pass. pg. 3
"If you could but inform Captain Randall that I come seeking information about a woman named Mrs. Eden Murdoch, I'm sure that he would make time to see me."
Eden Murdoch. He had not heard that name spoken in nearly a decade and yet not a day had gone by in all those years that he had not thought of her.
Randall rushed to the door and opened it. He beheld an Army officer, a major in the infantry by his uniform, standing before Mrs. Post.
"Come in at once, Major." pg. 16
"The old man confessed that his son was not really his flesh and blood, but rather adopted," Simon continued. "He found the boy when he was just a babe, abandoned on the prairie. His mother had apparently been traveling on a stagecoach when it was attacked by Indians." pg. 18
The leave would afford him the opportunity to resolve, informally at least, the Cheyenne situation and thereby circumvent Secretary Schurz's decree on the subject. pg. 21
Her daughter outwardly resembled the others, but she was a far cry from them in so many other ways. Born in a Cheyenne camp along the Tongue River, raised by her Cheyenne stepfather to be Indian in every sense, could the child successfully make the transition, given such odds. pg. 27