Copyright © 2017 by Mark Bierman.

THE BOOKS

 

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Vanished

Driven to despair by a shared loss, Americans John Webster and Tyler Montgomery try to self-medicate by embarking on a mission of goodwill to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The reconstruction of an orphanage transforms into a nightmarish hunt after a young girl is kidnapped.

 

Unequipped, culturally illiterate, and alone, the pair are forced into alliances with shifty characters, as they delve deeper into the treacherous underbelly of the human trafficking world. Can they survive long enough to keep their promise to the child’s mother?

Mark’s next book is a work in progress!

On July 17, 1897, the steamship Portland arrives in Seattle with more than a ton of gold, mined from the banks of the Klondike River.

“There she is, boys!" Albin Stromgren, a highly successful building contractor, declares triumphantly to his sons, Danne and Erik.

Albin has always prided himself on being practical, disciplined, and intelligent; the very qualities that enabled the poor Swedish immigrant to forsake his homeland, marry his love, and scratch out a small empire in the backwoods of Nineteenth-Century Seattle.

On this day, everything changes. Albin’s stability is crushed by the weight of glittering bullion. He’s caught the “fever” and the only cure is a lion’s share of yellow nuggets.  

Albin decrees that the Stromgrens are now prospectors. The edict is sealed by the sale of the business, family home, and most of their possessions. Travel to the gold fields near Dawson via the “Richman’s Route” is one that few can afford, but nothing less will do for the domineering patriarch. There’ll be no need for mountain climbing or months of wilderness trekking. A steamship ride to Saint Michael, Alaska, followed by a riverboat tour of the Yukon River, should bring them safely to Dawson in record time.  

The perspective is very different for his wife, Isabella, and their daughter, Charlotte. Neither are tantalized by the thought of exchanging their gorgeous Tudor-Style home for a tent, or swapping tea time with friends for evenings spent fending off drunken ruffians. Yet, the idea of vast wealth is extremely alluring and they raise not a single protest. The pair dutifully accompany the Stromgren men, determined to remain loyal.

The route to Dawson is not paved in gold, disaster strikes and the family is torn apart. There is no time to mourn. For all except Albin, the incentive of monetary gain fades, each breath is reward enough.

Albin refuses to “say die” and herds the remainder of his family towards Dawson. Prosperity is a means to an end. He craves the freedom it can bring . . . especially from the government. A dark past has taught him that dependence means death. Isabella knows only a small part of his secrets. The rest are kept locked in his mind and in the ancient steamer trunk that he brought from Sweden. The burdensome one, now being hauled to Dawson.

As the losses continue to mount, Albin must come to terms with the true price of gold.