BIRTHRIGHT by Philip Finch


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Finch (Storm Front, Haulin') now leaves his 20th-century truckers behind and hauls a hustling aristocracy of adventurers into ""dizzy and demented,"" Gold-rush-bloated Virginia City. Ace of the cold-deck is card man Joshua, who--left broke when his father bequeathes the family fortune to a Boston cult leader--joins a traveling show, learns his cards from the magician (""You got the hands""), then works the Mississippi and New Orleans, is caught and noosed, saved by a lucky lightning strike, and finally arrives in Virginia City to work for The House in a local emporium. Meanwhile he plots a web of chicanery which will make his fortune. His accomplices--variously willing, unwilling, and unwitting--include: ""Captain Jim,"" a Wa-She-Shu (Washoe) Indian who has picked up white lingo, a passion for nuggets and the green stuff, and a tendency to deal from the bottom of the deck; Joshua's brother John, now a San Francisco millionaire via Sutter's Mill, who agrees to a bit of masquerading; and beautiful Liz Burgess, a Kentucky-born, long-ago-orphaned brothel madam. (Also appearing are innocent real personalities like the journalist ""Dan DeQuille"" and John Mackay, mining-king-to-be.) The Big Caper is indeed brought off smashingly, but Indian Jim, ashamed, returns in body and spirit to his battered people; and Joshua re-woos a disapproving Liz to San Francisco. With some lively essentials about mine-mucking and action at the tables, Finch observes from an appreciative distance the zigs and zags of hellbent wanderers who tipple on impossibility and poise on the point of chance. Boisterous fun--with a heart of gold.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1979
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Simon & Schuster