From the Author
I have an itchy case of gold fever. I came down with it decades ago when I first traveled through the Deadwood area. I'm not talking about a hunger for shiny treasures, rather a need to know all about the people and places from which the shiny pieces are unearthed.
When it comes to the Black Hills, one town reaches out to scratch my gold-fever itch--the city of Lead (pronounced Leed). While Deadwood was busy leaving its mark on the history books with tales of Wild Bill Hickok and Seth Bullock, Lead was busy staking its claim on the land. The Open Cut mine in the middle of Lead brings its industrious past front and center.
The Open Cut has always fascinated me. I have studied "before" and "after" pictures, read all about its creation (at the Black Hills Mining Museum), and stared at the geological timeline in its walls through the Homestake Visitor Center's chain-link fence. Why am I so fascinated with a big hole in the ground? Because it reveals a history full of hard work, spent lives, and change. It intrigues me how people adapt to these changes.
Over the years, I've met several Homestake miners. I've listened to their stories of what it was like to work deep inside the Earth. At the butcher in King's Grocery, I stood in line with their wives and kids. These days, Homestake is no longer an operating gold mine; most of the drifts and shafts below the town are filled with water rather than men. But Lead's industrious spirit is still alive, its down-to-earth hardiness still apparent.
I'd always planned to incorporate Lead into the Deadwood Mystery series. The two towns are like sisters, each enchanting with separate but entangled histories. Before I began writing this second book, I cruised the back streets of Lead, along Sunnyhill Road, from East Summit Street to West, and down Gold Street, searching to see how life off the main drag had changed since Homestake stopped digging for gold. I took my kids to the little park on Miners Avenue and the big park next to the Open Cut. I climbed the steep hill on Mill Street, retracing the going-to-work route of many miners. I located the exact piece of land next to the Open Cut where I'd place the house that would play center stage in the story--the Carhart house.
I hope you get a kick out of reading Optical Delusions in Deadwood. While I enjoyed introducing Violet and her friends in the first book of the series, Nearly Departed in Deadwood, this second book allowed me to shed light on the kaleidoscope of colorful characters and historical settings.
Most of you reading this have already dipped a toe into Violet's world. Thank you for returning for more Deadwood fun.
Grab your boots, because the water is getting deeper.
Welcome back to Deadwood ... and Lead.
Award-winning author of the Deadwood Mystery Series