Education: Received degree in history.
Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime.
The Silk Train Murder: A Mystery of the Klondike (novel), Carrol & Graf (New York, NY), 2007.
Historian Sharon Rowse's first novel, The Silk Train Murder: A Mystery of the Klondike, draws on her background in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Canadian history. The story follows the adventures of intrepid former prospector John Lansdowne Granville, a descendant of an aristocratic British family, and Emily Turner, an adventurous woman born into an upper-class family. At the time the novel begins, John has returned to Vancouver after an unsuccessful adventure in the Yukon, searching for gold during the great gold rush of the late 1890s. An old acquaintance, Sam Scott, takes pity on John's near-destitute state and offers him a job as a guard on a train that ships silk arriving from the Orient to the United States. Soon, however, the two men are confronted with an unexpected mystery: they stumble across the body of Clive Jackson, a henchman of one of Vancouver's top criminal bosses. Rather than come clean about Clive's murder, the Canadian crime lords are content to see Sam take the fall for the crime, and within a day, he is arrested. It is up to John, with assistance from Emily and Trent Davis (a former train robber in the process of turning over a new leaf), to track down the murderers. Together, they prowl nineteenth-century Vancouver's underworld, searching brothels, bars, and drug dens for clues that will set Scott free.
While some reviewers celebrated Rowse's accomplishment—the book, for instance, was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for the best first crime or mystery novel by a Canadian writer—a few critics gave The Silk Train Murder somewhat negative feedback. "Rowse does little more than set the stage in this unprepossessing kickoff," stated a writer for Publishers Weekly. "Rowse's first novel, kicking off a proposed series, offers many promising ingredients," a Kirkus Reviews contributor stated, "but both her plotting and her prose need work." Other critics were more enthusiastic in their reviews. "This is an impressive debut," stated Barbara Bibel in Booklist, "with lots of colorful historical detail and a budding romance between [John] and [Emily]." "If you like a little history with your mystery and appreciate a bit of a Wild West setting," wrote a reviewer for the My Random Acts of Reading Web log, "this is the book for you."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2007, Barbara Bibel, review of The Silk Train Murder: A Mystery of the Klondike, p. 36.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2007, review of The Silk Train Murder.
Publishers Weekly, September 17, 2007, review of The Silk Train Murder, p. 41.
My Random Acts of Reading,http://myrandomactsofreading.blogspot.com/ (July 17, 2008), review of The Silk Train Murder.
Mystery Writers of America Web site,http://www.mysterywriters.org/ (July 17, 2008), author profile.
Sharon Rowse Home Page,http://www.sharonrowse.com (July 17, 2008).