Cold Millions
by Walter, Jess






Enduring the corruption of their union employment, two young day laborers are respectively drawn to a feminist activist and a vaudeville singer whose experiences reflect an unjust world on the brink of upheaval. 250,000 first printing.





*Starred Review* In Spokane in 1909, love more than idealism moves 16-year-old Rye Dolan to follow his older brother, Gig, against Gig's wishes, to a free speech protest and, as a result, to jail. When it's discovered that he's being kept in the brutal, overfilled prison as a minor, he's released and becomes a rather unwitting spokesperson for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the labor union behind the rally for which Gig is a vocal organizer. With Gig still in jail, Rye is taken under the wings of both a local mining millionaire and Gurley, which is how real-life IWW activist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn is mostly referred to in these pages. The precarious-from-the-start setup introduces Rye to more suffering and more possibilities than he'd known existed in his difficult young life and forces him to forge a path outside of his beloved brother's shadow. Strung up around true events and a handful of real people, Walter's (We Live in Water, 2013) latest is informed by intensive, ardent research and reverence for his home city; consider this book a train ticket to a past time and place. In addition to boldly voiced characters and dramatic suspense, in this century-ago tale of labor rights and wealth inequality readers will find plenty of modern relevance. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.





Irresistible hobo brothers, an evil tycoon, a pregnant union organizer, a burlesque star, and a shady private eye light up a tale of the great Northwest in the early 20th century. The fact that the same author has written books as wildly different and all as transporting as The Zero (2006), The Financial Lives of the Poets (2009), Beautiful Ruins (2012), and now this latest tour de force is testimony to Walter's protean storytelling power and astounding ability to set a scene, any scene. Here it's Spokane, his hometown, circa 1909. Orphaned Montana brothers Gig and Rye Dolan, 23 and 16, have wound up there along with so many others—"they floated in from mines and farms and log camps, filled every flop and boardinghouse, slept in parks and alleys...and, on the night just past, this abandoned ball field, its infield littered with itinerants, vagrants, floaters, Americans." The violent adventure that befalls Rye and Gig the next morning becomes the centerpiece of a story that Rye ends up reciting onstage when he goes on the road with 19-year-old Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a suffragette and union organizer and one of several real-life characters in the book. The free speech riots the Dolan brothers get involved in and end up incarcerated for are taken from history as well. At intervals, chapters are narrated by first-person characters both major and minor, several of whom die on the page midsentence, a literally breathtaking fictional flourish. Two favorite voices are Ursula the Great, the vaudeville performer Gig falls in love with, and Del Dalveaux, a detective in the employ of Ursula's patron. Noted for her singing and her way with a live cougar, Ursula displays food-writing talent as well: "We were served a French red wine, a fine local beefsteak, scallops from Seattle, and gnocchi that might have been pinched from the ass of an Italian angel." Dalveaux is a hard-boiled piece of work: "Spokane gave me the morbs. Right blood blister of a town. Six-month millionaires and skunk hobos, and none in between....The city was twice the size of the last time I'd hated being there." We have heard that Jess Walter writes nonstop: Seven days a week, 365 days a year. Please, never stop. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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