Ridge of Gold

James Ambrose Brown, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-312-68231-6
Such a crush of characters jostle each other in their avidity to rape the gold mines of Johannesburg in the 1880s that the story Brown tells in this ambitious novel must wait until the principals are sorted out. But it soon becomes clear that the American miner Walter Gardiner will marry Katherine, daughter of Josiah Rawlinson who years before had made a killing in diamonds at Kimberley; that penniless Leonard Penlynne will, by virtue of a deal with a powerful absentee owner, threaten Rawlinson's stake in the gold lands surrounding the burgeoning city; that Kitty Loftus, lured from a dance hall by the spurious Baron de la Roche, will escape the white slavery she was destined for and garner her share of the new money that swells every pocket. Shanties abound, but so do dream castles, where politicians and peers are entertained against the day when, the huge profits collected, a knighthood or a governorship should follow. Etched sharply against the intrigue, the mine accidents, the stirrings of unionism is the struggle between Penlynne and Gardiner on one hand and Rawlinson on the other, a conflict involving chemicals, deep-pit mining and a bitter court battle that will keep the reader's heart in mouth and nerves on edge. (September 2)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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