In 1886, after her father died in Youghal, Ireland, orphan Mae Codene set sail alone for America in search of her older sister Colleen who had made the same journey a decade earlier. After arriving in Manhattan, she is overwhelmed by its sheer size, her loneliness, and the seemingly impossible task of finding her sister.
Disillusioned and wandering the streets with only a suitcase containing her meager belongings, she ends up at the city docks and meets Logan, a wealthy criminal. Little did Logan know that his whole world was about to be turned on its head.
Having just lost his servant, Logan offers her the job in his city apartment and tells her twice a year she’ll accompany him to his icehouse business located on the Hudson River in the upstate town of Hermitsville. When spring comes, they head north to what at first seems a peaceful town but soon turns out to be anything but. As the workers toil to fill the massive icehouse before the spring thaw, a hardened killer arrives in town being pursued by a member of a family he attacked. Then one day something remarkable is found frozen into the ice just as Logan is ready to set in motion his scheme for the biggest robbery of his life, what he calls the perfect crime. The ice workers, however, have a different plan in store for him.
““Gold As Ice” is a tale of ambition, deception, and unexpected alliances against the backdrop of a rapidly changing late 1800’s America. With its vivid depiction of the era and a web of intricate narratives, this novel keeps readers eagerly turning the pages. “Gold As Ice” is a must-read for those who enjoy historical fiction with a touch of mystery and suspense.”
“Don Heywood’s storytelling weaves together a rich tapestry of characters and subplots in this historical drama.”
“The author has built an authentic picture of the past era and brought to the spotlight a lost industry which many were not aware of. It is a dense, dark, but enriching book that helps in understanding a part of the past United States society and culture.”
Excerpt From The Prologue: February, 1868
Outside, a panicked wind rumbled like a runaway train. It blasted ice pellets and crystalized snow against the leaden glass windows like tiny battering rams and made frozen tree limbs bend and groan as the temperature dropped like an iron anchor into the single digits.
Inside the tavern, Logan looked over the top of his cards at the young stranger across the scarred table. A fire raged in a cobblestone hearth, the well-seasoned logs snapping and cracking as they sent scattered sparks of flaming wood into the room like tiny meteorites. Taking a pull on his cigar, Logan exhaled a smoke plume adding to the room’s fug, his narrowed gray eyes the color of squirrel fur. He was positive that this guy was cheating, but he hadn’t yet figured out how. He knew a cheat when he saw one because he was one himself. Had been his entire life. In fact, Logan cheated at most everything he did. He was an expert at it, proven by the fact that he had never been caught
Puffing once again, he glanced at his hand. Eight through queen straight flush. Placing his cigar in an overflowing ashtray, he put his cards face down on the table then shoved his sizable pile of coins and bills to the center. “All in,” he declared, drawing a gasp from the crowd of men standing around the table. Several of Logan’s henchmen nodded to each other approvingly, though with nervous twitching smiles. They knew full well what happened when Logan lost at anything.
Their boss took a healthy swig of whiskey, set the glass down with a thud and stared at the man across from him. Logan was confident. Always was. He picked up a scratched, faded white die that he always carried with him and tumbled it in his left-hand, a nervous habit from his younger years. With all the men he had cheated and killed over the years, he was always on his guard and looking over his shoulder. Once again, he was mitigating this nervous state by twisting the die in his fingers.
Stroking an eyebrow, the color of rich soil and as thick as a caterpillar, Logan ran a hand across his bald head feeling beads of perspiration among the few strands of wispy, auburn hair that stubbornly remained like an oasis in the middle of a barren desert.
The young man stared at Logan for the longest time without moving.
When Logan could take the silence no longer, he bellowed, “You in or not?” The die continuing to roll in his fingers.
The front door suddenly opened with a piercing squeak, like the caw of an immense crow, letting in a burst of frigid air that sent snow sprinting into the room. Flames in the fireplace danced wildly until the man who’d entered slammed the door behind him. Snow on the floor looked like white sawdust. The gust stirred the smell of smoke, whiskey, and body odor inside, amplifying the stench. All eyes briefly turned to the new man and, seeing nothing threatening, returned to the drama at the poker table.
The young stranger smiled, laid his cards on the table, pushed his pile of money into the center. “In.”
There was a brief murmuring among the crowd as Logan assertively looked around the room, his eyes narrowing, seeming as unfriendly as a January sky. He flipped his cards over saying, “Queen high straight flush, in hearts.” Smiling, he finished his whiskey in one gulp then triumphally slammed his glass onto the table. He couldn’t help but smile. Winning was his life. Losing was not an option no matter what the stakes. It was his way or no way. He was a driven man with greed his fuel.
There were several loud exhales of relief and then whispers of approval from his men, some uncomfortable shifting of feet and then silence. The only sound coming from the crackling fire and the bartender clinking glasses as he cleaned them. The young man took a drink, set his glass firmly down and flipped his cards. “Royal flush, in diamonds.”
Time seemed frozen. No one dared move or say anything. The whipping wind growled outside but inside it was quiet as a tomb as a knot in a log on the fire suddenly cracked and spit a large ember onto the floor as if a wad of chewing tobacco.
Logan violently pushed his chair back sending it sliding across the floor before it tipped over with a splintering rattle. Standing, he revealed his short, slight stature which seemed incompatible with his violent and commanding demeanor. Drawing his gun, he pointed it at the man and said, “You son of a bitch! I don’t know how you’re doing it, but I know damn well that you’re cheating!” The die continued to rotate in his left-hand. “Nobody, and I mean nobody, cheats me, and gets away with it! Grab him!” Logan’s sweaty face flushed and his temples pounded, his head ready to explode from anger.
Several men grabbed the young man and yanked him upright. He smiled, but said not a word.
Logan stared at him regaining control of his emotions. “What do we do with cheaters, men?”
“Tar and feathers!” several shouted.
“Let’s do it!” another yelled whipping the others into a frenzy.
With that, the young man was pushed out the door into the freezing night air as the mob encircled him, shouting and laughing, seemingly oblivious to the severe cold and pounding thrashing snow.