Peacemaker is the third book in Lindsay Buroker’s Flash Gold Chronicles. When I finished the last page, I was already pining for book four. I hope I don’t have too long to wait for the next episode in these steampunk adventures of a self-taught tinkerer and her bounty hunter business partner.
Kali and Cedar are tremendous fun. Especially because the scrapes Kali gets into (and gets herself out of) read like a Girl’s Own Adventure version of the Perils of Pauline. Or maybe more like “Dudley Do-right and Snidely Whiplash”? But in Ms. Buroker’s tales, Kali McAlister never waits for any man to rescue her, and her partner Cedar is much, much smarter than Dudley ever hoped to be.
Cedar needs to be smarter if he’s ever going to have half a chance with Kali. But there are Mounties hanging around. Peacemaker takes place in Dawson City, Yukon during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush.
During the Gold Rush era, “Peacemaker” was a nickname for a Colt Single Action Revolver. Between 1949 and 1959, “Peacemaker” was also the nickname for the Convair B-36 strategic bomber. In this steampunk wild west where airship pirates steal gold from men who shoot back with six-shooters, both nicknames turn out to be strangely apropos.
There’s a serial killer on the loose. He’s targeting Native girls, and he doesn’t just kill them. He tortures and rapes them first. Then he butchers them. Jack the Ripper might have been the killer’s teacher, or his student.
The worst part is he’s trying to lay the blame on either the Natives, or animals, or superstitious nonsense. In any case, he escapes clean every time. Finding out just how he does it is a big part of the story.
The absolutely worst part is that the crimes appear to be the work of the same serial killer who struck in San Francisco just before Cedar left–the crimes that Cedar was accused of. There’s a Pinkerton agent on Cedar’s trail, and he’s come to Dawson to get his man.
Cedar isn’t the murderer. But the murderer is tracking Cedar, knowing he can lay the blame at Cedar’s door. And Kali is half-Native. Adding her to the body count will serve two purposes; it will hurt Cedar, and it will make him look even more guilty. After all, that’s how it worked in San Francisco. The last victim there was someone Cedar cared about, too.
About that bomber: Kali wants an airship. Attempting to get her hands on one lands her, and everyone around her, in all sorts of trouble. Read the book and find out how she gets herself out.
We see more of her background in Peacemaker, and she’s come a long way. Kali is a child of two worlds, and feels like she doesn’t belong in either one. Seeing that she has made a way for herself that takes the best of both makes her a truly interesting character.
I do hope that someday Kali and Cedar get a happy ending. These are not romances, so that’s not part of the story. But these are two people who have had some rough times, and as a reader, you hope they get rewarded. They’re just good together.