All That Glitters. . .
When the folks of Flat Skunk rediscover gold in them thar hills, the modern-day stampede brings money-hungry miners to the Gold Country town, and headlines for deaf reporter Connor Westphals newspapernot to mention murder....
The Gold Rush and the 49ers. The Comstock Lode silver bonanza. Silicon Valley and the dot-com boom. All these built cities, states, and enormous wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. Could a new Gold Rush be possible where it all began? When an old prospector in Flat Skunk turns up a gold nugget the size of a tooth in Silence Is Golden, wannabe-prospectors and the media flock to town with dreams of striking it rich. (Life seemingly imitates art, as in June 2003 an 1862 mine, closed for 50 years, was set to be reopened near Grass Valley, prompting headlines like Gold Fever Redux.)
In 1849 and the years following, those who actually made the most money were the suppliers of mining equipment and dungarees. (In 2001, Levi Strauss Inc. bought a 100-year-old pair of their jeans from an abandoned mine for $46,532; the company is reproducing 500 of the beat-up denims at $300 each in a vintage collection.) Silence Is Golden is crammed with fascinating detail on Gold Rush history (which happened only a few generations ago), modern local landowners and developers hoping to profit from the new bonanza, and the sort of outsiders who are drawn to the prospect of easy pickings.
Flat Skunk newspaper publisher Connor Westphal only hopes to sell a few issues of the Eureka! and grab a scoop or two. Her knowledge of the town and her close connection to its people may draw her into danger when she uncovers a nefarious plot connected to the gold strike. And Connors significant other, PI Dan Smith, seems to have something on his mind and is behaving oddly. To add to the mix, an old flame shows up with his wife and deaf daughter, who is a candidate for a cochlear implant. Connor herself must grapple with the life-changing question: If you can reverse deafness, should you? Is silence really golden?
Penny Warner is the winner of the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards for her childrens and adults mysteries. She is the author of over 40 books for parents and children, and Silence Is Golden is the sixth in her Connor Westphal mystery series. She teaches child development, sign language, and writing at local colleges and workshops. Warner has two grown children and lives with her husband in Northern California.