Imagine Dick Francis writing about journalism instead of horse racing, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil set in the City by the Bay instead of Savanah. That should provide some inkling of the depth, richness, action, and intrigue of The Lost Gold of San Francisco.
The day before the 1906 earthquake, a U.S. Army company failed to pick up $130,000 in misstruck $20 gold pieces at the San Francisco Mint for return to Denver to be melted down. The coins San Francisco "S" mint marks, had been accidentally double-struck: "SS." In the confusion following the Big One, with fires threatening the Mint and armed gangs massing to attack, Mint Superintendent Herbert Walther sends the misstrikes to Army headquarters by wagon. The coins never arrive. Only two are ever found. They become the most storied coins in U.S. history. The others become the lost gold of San Francisco.
Jump to 1989: Chester Worthington Gilchrist III, billionaire publisher of the San Francisco Foghorn newspaper donates his priceless coin collection to the venerable California Museum. It contains one of the two known 1906-SS gold pieces. Brash reporter Ed Rosenberg covers the story. Then the founder of the Museum turns up murdered. He has a long list of enemies, but soon, the chief suspect is Gilchrists son, Chet, just pardoned after 10 years as a fugitive charged with heroin trafficking. Ed chases the story from the Golden Gate Bridge to the gay Castro to a posh art gallery on Union Square. More bodies drop, and Ed suspects a connection to the lost gold. Meanwhile, Ed locks horns with a rogues gallery of San Francisco characters, including the bulldog owner of the alternative weekly newspaper, and the swashbuckling founder of a controversial magazine that mixes investigative reporting and naked women. For help, Ed turns to a rabbinical school dropout who shoots a mean ga!
me of pool, a young Chinese-American reporter with a black belt in karate, and an exotic woman with a talent for public relations, whos even more talented in private. Soon Ed isnt just reporting the story. Someone is shooting at him.
The Lost Gold of San Francisco is a vivid, compelling, intricately-plotted page-turner. The action is fast, the characters memorable, and the writing makes San Francisco come alive.