A Solid Gold Mystery!

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Seven Cities of Greed By: Jean Sheldon Published By: Bast Press ISBN: 978-0-9723541-7-2 Jean Sheldon's latest book, Seven Cities of Greed, sets a new gold standard for mysteries.
It's about a hand-carved leather journal that finds its way to the wrong hands, bought at an auction by Jacqueline (Jackie) Tracy, part owner and major financial backer of Zodiac's Rare & Used Books, named after the black cat of another of its owners, Patricia (Pat) Sexton.
The journal was meant to be purchased by someone else, working for the rich, greedy and villainous bad guy of the novel, Samuel Barnes, but a delayed plane flight made Jackie the highest bidder, not Barnes's henchman.
Barnes believes that the journal contains information about where the legendary Seven cities of Cibola, also known as the Seven Cities of Gold, are located, so he has some of his hired help kidnap Jackie and take her to a cabin in Wisconsin to interrogate her.
Having forgotten she even bought the journal, though, because of a hold up in its delivery and because of her forgetful nature, she has no clue what her kidnappers are talking about when they demand information about the location of the journal.
Fortunately for Chicagoan Jackie, one of her friends is Nicole (Niki) Jordan, "a retired Chicago police officer turned private investigator.
" Niki, Pat, and psychiatrist Gwen Garcia-Wilson, another of Jackie's friends and co-owner of the bookstore, plan how rescue Jackie.
The friends have known each other for over thirty years, having met at Northwestern University.
They know their were Wisconsin license plates on the vehicle that the kidnappers used, and they know a couple of the numbers on the plate, and with Niki's police department ties, they manage to follow their leads to the cabin and rescue their friend.
This is only the beginning, though, of the women's adventures.
Samuel Barnes is still after the journal, and his men have ransacked the bookstore, scattering books all over the place in their search for the book.
When the journal finally does turn up at the store, delivered late, the women at first don't know what it's about, since it's written in an old style of Spanish, but they know it's important enough that someone would even resort to kidnapping to obtain it.
Gwen is able to translate it, since she has learned Spanish, and she tells the other women when they meet at a restaurant that if the journal isn't a forgery, it seems to have been written by "a person writing about his travels with Marco de Niza in 1539.
They explored land that today is Arizona and New Mexico.
" What's more, de Niza "led the first expedition to land north of Mexico in search of a place called Cibola and the Seven Cities of Gold.
" The women decide to go to New Mexico to try to find the gold cities, or more likely, caverns filled with gold for themselves.
They will also try to get the journal authenticated further, but even if they have no luck finding the gold, at least it has the makings of being an enjoyable vacation.
Jackie's aunt Elizabeth has a house there they plan to use, because her aunt and Jackie had lived there, Elizabeth having raised her after Jackie's parents both died.
Jackie was also traumatized by having been kidnapped when she was a young girl living in New Mexico, so she has some mixed emotions about going back, but wants to face her past to help her get over it once and for all.
I lived in Illinois when I was younger, and I really liked the author's references to the streets, buildings, and neighborhoods she mentions.
She must have either lived there at one time, or has done her research very well.
The same goes for the chapters of the novel set in New Mexico - her descriptions are very vivid, and along with her excellent knack at character development and creating characters who seem three dimensional, Jean Sheldon is quickly turning into one of my favorite mystery authors.
There's plenty of mystery and suspense throughout the novel, and you want to keep reading late into the night to find out what happens next.
I really liked Jean Sheldon's first novel, the historical mystery about WWII spies and women pilots, The Woman in the Wing, and in Seven Cities of Greed, Sheldon shows continued growth as a writer and that she is a definite force to be reckoned with as one of today's most talented mystery authors.
If you love reading mysteries full of action and adventure, you should mine this rich vein of gold today, and strike the mother lode for yourselves, as I did! --Douglas R.
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