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Crimson Gold by Donna Kolling Lear

Four people are dead – three have been brutally murdered, and the fourth appears to have killed himself after killing the others. But something is amiss; the facts just don’t add up. Why would Elias Franks kill himself in the middle of cooking dinner? And how on earth did he end up with two fatal gunshot wounds in his head? Suddenly, this simple open-and-shut case isn’t so simple anymore; and there are dozens of questions to answer before it can be closed. ‘Crimson Gold’ by Donna Kolling Lear carries readers to 1939 Dutch Hills, Alaska, to follow this mind boggling mystery as it unfolds. Based on true events from the author’s family history, the story tracks every step of the investigation into the murders of gold miners Harmon and Zelda Johnson; their worker John Brady; and their less successful mining competitor, Elias Franks. The names of the characters have been changed to protect the identities of those involved – and very well they should be, because no person, living or dead, would want to own up to the gruesome acts and loathsome motives recounted in Lear’s debut work. The novel finds four victims dead as a result of one man’s sinister plan. At the outset, his identity remains unknown, though, from the get-go, his motives are quite clear. It’s all about the gold. But who is this man – and who else was involved in his plan? Local probate judge Bob Maywood and US attorney Joe Keith are determined to find out – and so are Harmon’s two surviving brothers, George and Ron, who travel from California to the territory of Alaska to find answers and settle Harmon’s estate.

‘Crimson Gold’ is an enthralling story of deception, broken families, and palpable greed. The storyline is thoroughly captivating and remarkably real, making it difficult to put the book down without reading one more chapter. But one more chapter turns into another, then another, and, before you know it, you’re hooked, not just by the gripping plotline, but also by the simple eloquence, nostalgic undercurrents, and intrigue with which the story is told. Without doubt, ‘Crimson Gold’ is a novel that mystery lovers will love to read.

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