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The Lost Gold of San Francisco [Hardcover]

Michael Castleman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 2003
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 Gilchrist’s 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 rogue’s 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, who’s even more talented in private. Soon Ed isn’t 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.


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
I'm a fan of historical fiction. But as the former editor of San Francisco's city magazine, I'm picky when it comes to stories set in SF. The romance, the history, the twists and turns and exotic corners of the city invite mystery writers, but a story can't just be 'set' in San Francisco, it has to be saturated with the feel, the sounds, the air. Michael Castleman delivers it all with a well-crafted plot that draws on the minted gold wealth upon which the city was founded...and the shaky fault-ridden ground that gave way in the catastrophes of 1906 and 1989. A tough-minded reporter of the breed that once made the city famous (Mark Twain penned much of his work a short walk from the famous San Francisco Mint which is at the center of Castleman's novel), pursues the story of the mysterious lost gold and in the course of his investigation almost...ok, no spoilers. San Francisco has delivered some of the greatest mystery writers, and Castleman seems ready to join their ranks. (An added bonus: those who know the city well will love matching up some of the books most colorful characters with their famous and notorious real life counterparts.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars History+Mystery=A Great Read April 30 2003
Format:Hardcover
Michael Castleman's expert prose makes the past as appealing as the present--and his characters compelling and authentic. The Lost Gold is a love story to the author's city of San Francisco, and a terrific contribution to the genre of historical fiction. Even if you don't like mysteries, this book's for you!
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Gold Fever in 2 eras April 27 2003
Format:Hardcover
A friend gave me a signed 1st edition of this book. I live in the East Bay, and she knew I wouldn't be able to resist a true story set so close to home, San Francisco. The story spans two eras. The first is April, 1906, San Francisco's golden era in every sense of the word; a fortune in gold coins was set loose - and then came the earthquake.
The book then jumps forward to 1989, and history turns to mystery and murder.
Much more than it seems at first glance, The Lost Gold of San Francisco is a poem of grace to a city both past and present that the author obviously holds dear.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tightly plotted, colorful, historical/mystery, a winner! May 7 2003
By Cato Sapiens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm a fan of historical fiction. But as the former editor of San Francisco's city magazine, I'm picky when it comes to stories set in SF. The romance, the history, the twists and turns and exotic corners of the city invite mystery writers, but a story can't just be 'set' in San Francisco, it has to be saturated with the feel, the sounds, the air. Michael Castleman delivers it all with a well-crafted plot that draws on the minted gold wealth upon which the city was founded...and the shaky fault-ridden ground that gave way in the catastrophes of 1906 and 1989. A tough-minded reporter of the breed that once made the city famous (Mark Twain penned much of his work a short walk from the famous San Francisco Mint which is at the center of Castleman's novel), pursues the story of the mysterious lost gold and in the course of his investigation almost...ok, no spoilers. San Francisco has delivered some of the greatest mystery writers, and Castleman seems ready to join their ranks. (An added bonus: those who know the city well will love matching up some of the books most colorful characters with their famous and notorious real life counterparts.)
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For lovers of mystery and San Francisco March 25 2003
By Robin Wolaner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this book because I heard the author speak and I'd liked his nonfiction -- I don't usually read mysteries. But I ended up staying up late until I finished it. The San Francisco details are vivid and evocative, and the mystery has so many twists and turns. Loved it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gold Fever in 2 eras April 27 2003
By Peggy Vincent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A friend gave me a signed 1st edition of this book. I live in the East Bay, and she knew I wouldn't be able to resist a true story set so close to home, San Francisco. The story spans two eras. The first is April, 1906, San Francisco's golden era in every sense of the word; a fortune in gold coins was set loose - and then came the earthquake.
The book then jumps forward to 1989, and history turns to mystery and murder.
Much more than it seems at first glance, The Lost Gold of San Francisco is a poem of grace to a city both past and present that the author obviously holds dear.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book. Love the Mixture of San Francisco History with fiction. Sept. 21 2007
By M. Soon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you grew up in San Francisco, this is a must read. It takes you through the history of San Francisco and the diverse neighborhoods that make up this wonderful city. Strung along with fictional events, this book rounds out the wonderful story the author has written.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History+Mystery=A Great Read April 30 2003
By M. Maran - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Michael Castleman's expert prose makes the past as appealing as the present--and his characters compelling and authentic. The Lost Gold is a love story to the author's city of San Francisco, and a terrific contribution to the genre of historical fiction. Even if you don't like mysteries, this book's for you!
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