Ira Adler’s third novel, Fool’s Gold is a bit of a departure, literally and figuratively. The other books have been set in different parts of late 19th century London. This one is split between London and Central California.
I’ve been trying to figure out what sort of teasers I might put out there that wouldn’t be spoilers. It’s difficult! So here’s the first of them — the “historical notes.” Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to try to figure out what roles these figures might play in an Ira Adler story. Ready? Go!
Fool’s Gold is slated for an April 1 release.
The character of Marshal Calvin Sutter was inspired by legendary lawman Bass Reeves (1838-1910), who was also the inspiration for the Lone Ranger.
Born a slave on the plantation of an Arkansas state legislator, Reeves escaped during the American Civil War and made his way to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), where he lived among the Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee peoples until the end of the war.
In 1875, Reeves was hired as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, owing to his knowledge of Indian Territory, and his fluency in three Native American languages. A master of disguise and an expert marksman with superior detective skills, Reeves served as a peace officer for thirty-two years. By the time he retired, he had personally brought some 3,000 felons to justice.
Like the Lone Ranger, Reeves always rode a white or light gray horse, and was said to have handed out silver coins as tokens of goodwill. He often rode with a Native American companion, an expert tracker, who was instrumental in collaring outlaws.
You can read more about Bass Reeves in the book Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves by R. T. Burton.
The porters of the Pullman Cars played a number of important roles in American history. After emancipation, the Pullman company hired large numbers of Black men, many of them former slaves, to serve as porters in their sleeper cars. It was hard work and poorly compensated, and attempts at unionization were ruthlessly put down. At the same time, the steady nature of the work helped to provide the stability that played a large part in the development of a Black middle class. Later, the organization of the Brotherhood of Pullman Car Porters would be integral to the AFL’s eventual inclusion of Black workers. The Brotherhood also had a significant role in the Civil Rights movement in the 1940s and 1950s.
The character of Samuel Curtis was inspired by cattleman and land developer Henry Miller, who by the end of the 19th century, was one of the largest landowners in the United States. It was said that he could travel from one end of California to the other without ever leaving his own land. He built his fortune raising cattle, and his conglomeration of cattle interests and land holdings were largely responsible for the death of the individual ranch in California. He was also instrumental in the development of the San Joaquin Valley in Central California.
The Tulare County Sheriff in 1895 was not Abner Daniels, but Al P. Merritt, who was, by all accounts, a good sheriff and an upstanding citizen.