Vicki Delany's book, "Gold Digger," is a story of the final days of Canada's Klondike Gold Rush. The Savoy Dance Hall in Dawson, Yukon Territory is the epicenter of this fast moving western mystery. It is there we meet the polyglot population of Canadians, Americans, English, Irish, and Scots who've come to make a fortune in the gold fields. Not unlike contemporary lotteries, the line of a fortune in gold attracts the best and the worst of humanity, seemingly mediated by the desperately poor trying to scratch a living from the excitement of legendary fortunes to be had just beneath the surface of the earth or on the velvet padded gambling tables of main street saloons.
Vicki Delany has assembled an all star cast of dance hall girls, drunks, thieves, prostitutes, all monitored by the Northwest Mounted Police, the "Mounties." Primary characters in this story are Fiona MacGillivray, a single parent mom and Ray Walker, her co-owner of the Savoy Dance Hall. "Gold Diggers" opens with the discovery of the corpse of Jack Ireland, a San Francisco journalist with a long and shady past, who's been murdered on the stage of the Savoy.
The story moves quickly, spiced up by author Delany's wit and well-developed characters who swiftly draw the readers' sympathies for a single parent mom, a bright, likable teenager, and a noble Mounty, handsome enough to flutter the heart of the most hardened dance hall girl. In addition to the plot that includes the combination of poverty and greed that has attacted people to the Yukon, each of the characters has a story that alternately causes the reader to invest in the good guys or despise the bad ones. Those conflicts, man vs. man, lie at the sources of the tensions in "Gold Digger".
Yet another feature of this novel is author Delany's talent for witty and salty metaphor, e.g. [the words of the saloon owner about the Mounty] "and he worshipped the liquor-spotted, spat-upon, sawdust-coated, cheap wooden planks that I walked on."
For these reasons, the elegant well-crafted plot, and the tensions between well-developed characters of conflicting motives, "Gold Diggers" is a fast, sure read, one you won't put down and that you will finish with that satisfying read charactistic of an entertaining, sometimes profound portrait of an earlier age.