April 28, 2011

Tara Kane: Historical novel based around the gold rush and Soapy Smith.

Tara Kane, the book by George Markstein and Jacqui Lyons, was published in England and the United States in 1978. The storyline takes place in the Klondike 1897 and involves the adventures of a young woman who falls in love with Soapy Smith while searching for her husband.

Tara Kane had never got over the sudden disappearance of her husband and so resolves to track him down. Leaving the comforts and safety of her San Francisco home, her quest takes her to the icy wilderness of Klondike during the Gold Rush. But she finds Klondike is no place for a lone woman, and the harsh conditions and savagery are almost more than she can bear. Determined to find the truth once and for all, Tara battles on, and finds herself on a painful journey of self-discovery.

In the mid 1980s my father discovered the novel and shared copies with the rest of his siblings. In January 1987 while researching for my own book I wrote a letter to George Markstein. I received a reply from his co-author, Jacqui Lyons that George had passed away just a few days before my letter arrived.

... Sadly, it arrived a few days after George Markstein's untimely and premature death. However, as you may have noticed, I was closely involved in the writing of this book, so I hope you won't mind me replying on George's behalf. I know, if he'd lived, he would have been fascinated to read your letter and would have hastened to answer. Both od us grew to 'love' Jeff during the preparation of the manuscript, though during all our researches, I don't recall reading that he was married, so your letter is all the more interesting. One of the things that so inspired us was that no fiction could ever be written about Jeff - according to our research, he'd done it all.
Jacqui Lyons

Jacqui Lyons signing my copy of Tara Kane.

In January 1988 Jacqui Lyons arrived in Los Angeles from England and came to visit me. Sadly my father had passed away in December of 1987 and could not join us. We spent the afternoon talking about the book,  Soapy, George, and my father.

Signed last page of Tara Kane

Upon her return to England Jacqui sent me a thank you gift. The autographed last page of Tara Kane. What an honor it is to have received this. I framed it, thus the blurry copy you see above. My book was completed digitally so there is no "last page" to sign.

The whole point of this post was only to introduce some passages from the book now and again, but in preparing for the write up I brought back so many memories and bits of information that I wanted to share with you that it's now getting out-of-hand!

Tara Kane was published in several editions until 2001. The book can be obtained very economically online for those who wish to read the book.

ISBN-10: 0755102959
ISBN-13: 978-0755102952

Oh! I almost forgot. As promised, a selection from the book...

Tara confronts Soapy Smith...

“I guess you’ve heard the most terrible stories about this scoundrel Soapy Smith. How he runs all the rackets. How he owns dives and saloons. How he takes advantage of people. What a rogue he is. Correct?”

You believe you’re playing a really disarming game, don’t you thought Tara. Aloud, she said, “Why should I listen to stories about you, Mr. Smith? I’ve seen you in action. I know how you operate.”

Now he was smiling broadly. “Sure. I’m a businessman. An entrepreneur.”

Tara pushed her plate away. “Businessman? Selling people ten-cent bars of soap for five dollars? Rigging up fake telegraph lines? Fixing roulette wheels? You call that doing business?”

“You really don’t understand, do you? I’m a kind of educator. I teach people lessons they badly need. Hell, I put them wise, don’t you see? Show them how easy it is for a sucker to be parted from his dough. I figure that’s more a public service than some folks realize. There’s many a guy walking around watching his money after a course of instruction from me.”

Jeff Smith


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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith