Author: Jess Faraday
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Pages/Word Count: 322 Pages
At a Glance: In a word: Outstanding.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: For once, Ira Adler has it easy. He has money in his pocket, a comfortable arrangement with an undemanding young man, and no one’s punched, chased, or shot at him in years. Suddenly, an explosion turns everything upside down. Eager to leave London, Ira accompanies his friends to America to settle a family matter. But though a handsome lawman and a trip aboard a luxurious ocean liner provide welcome distraction, Ira soon finds himself embroiled in a plot that stretches from London’s back alleys to the dusty dirt roads of California. Before he knows it, Ira is up to his neck in train robbers, rattlesnakes, unscrupulous cattle kings, and persistent young women driven to frenzy by his exotic accent. Just when he’s ready to flee back to Britain, Ira gets a fistful of second chances. But London is calling. Will Ira answer? Or will he embrace a new life abroad?
Review: Jess Faraday’s Fool’s Gold could have been subtitled “: Or The Misadventures of Ira Adler”. The series itself is the evolution of a character who’s become so beloved—all the characters, really—that revisiting him book after book, then waiting for the next adventure to begin, is sweet torture.
The Ira Adler series is a Pygmalion-esque story of evolution. From street whore to respectable gentleman, Ira is the beneficiary of a dangerous benefactor’s tutelage, becomes the object of that man’s obsession, and finally… Well, I think we may still be working on the finally part as the author leads us through a tangled web of emotions—hate, love, grief, regret, making peace with the past—there is still so much more for Mr. Adler to experience, and even as he’s mourned for and said his goodbyes to the past, he may have found a future in Marshal Calvin Sutter, someone to open up a whole new world of possibilities for Ira. The man himself felt somewhat rudderless and off course in Fool’s Gold as he battles jealousy and confusion; his life rocked off its foundation, which leaves him homeless and unsure; but he’s set a new course for his life. It only remains to be seen, now, where it will take him.
As the saying goes, life is a journey, not a destination, and Ira Adler is taking us on quite the trek through Victorian London and on to the American West. He becomes embroiled in a crime and mystery not of his own making (as always seems the case with our hero) that threatens his life nonetheless: framed for a robbery at sea, getting held up at gunpoint on a train bound across the barren prairies of the US, a near miss with a buffalo stampede; these are just a few of the various and sundry other pitfalls he experiences in Fool’s Gold until, finally, he finds himself at a crossroads between England and America, where he sees that America, in her relative infancy, holds the possibility of new beginnings.
As this journey sweeps Ira along in its wake, he becomes as much a passenger in the adventure as we are, and just when you wonder what else could possibly go wrong for him, something does. Fool’s Gold is non-stop action, start to finish, not to mention this installment is not too terribly kind to the heart or tear ducts. As many things as go wrong for Ira, though, some things go right as well, and while they might not have gone right the way I want to see them go, that’s okay. An occasional cry never hurt anyone, now, did it?
Which leads us to Cain Goddard, scholar and criminal, also known as the dreaded Duke of Dorset. Goddard, the man who, for some unknown reason, the author perhaps feels should be beyond our contempt, but isn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a man of such ill repute more, and the source of all my tears? Yes. Cain Goddard. What’s happened in the evolution of these books is nothing less than superb, nothing less than heartbreaking, and while Ira’s journey isn’t over, things have most certainly changed course. And that’s all I’m going to say about that, because to say more would be unfair to those of you who want to experience every single nuance of these books for yourselves.
Jess Faraday’s storytelling skills are flawless. From creating rich and multi-layered characters to texturing each layer of plot so it grounds the reader in the time and place of the novels, these books are not a lesson in Victorian Era or Old West history. They are each detailed yet subtle, every scene perfection, written with a finesse that draws you into the story and captivates and captures the imagination.
There’s a reason The Affair of the Porcelain Dog and Turnbull House both made my list of their respective years’ Best Books. Fool’s Gold will make it a three-peat in 2015. This series is full-immersion historical fiction. In a word: Outstanding.
You can buy Fool’s Gold here: