A newspaperman's daughter and novice reporter Sam Clemens uncover a plot to seize the mighty Comstock Lode for the Confederacy in this open-throttled page-turner from Lasky (True North, 1996, etc.). After her mother dies in childbirth, Alice Rose's loneliness is relieved by her father's new employee, Sam, who has startling ideas about God and the Bible, and an imagination as unfettered as his red hair. In exchange for Sam's treating her as a thinking adult rather than a child, she feeds him story ideas and local anecdotes--then graduates to collaborator when she witnesses a murder tied to an anonymous vigilante group known as the ""Society of Seven."" In fact, the Society is out to take over the silver mines for the Southern cause, and Alice Rose discovers that she's in danger not only for seeing the murder, but for being part owner of a key claim. Lasky surrounds Alice Rose with a wild array of barflies, ""hurdy-gurdy girls,"" nouveau millionaires, immigrant Chinese (one, Hop Sing, hails from Carson City), crooked lawyers, and hard-living reporters; she also gives her a salty, vivid way with words--""Mr. Clemens . . . this country is about as pretty as a singed cat . . . more like the Devil's spittoon than the Garden of Eden""--and propels her into plenty of tense situations. Fans of Karen Cushman's The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (1996) and Kathleen Karr's Oh, Those Harper Girls! (1992) have a plucky new heroine to admire.