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Reviewed by Melissa Tanaka for Readers' Favorite
I have a strong love for historical fiction, especially when the story is based on true events, and so I was incredibly excited to read Clevenger Gold by S.E. Swapp, which is based on the 1886 murder of Samuel and Charlotte Clevenger. After selling their property and exchanging their life savings into gold bullion, the Clevenger family moved north with nearly $6,000 in American gold eagles, an estimated $1 million in today’s value. Two men named John Johnson and Frank Willson are hired to drive Clevenger’s team as they move to Washington, and they quickly become the center point of the novel.
As the story progresses, it skips around from different times, locations, and perspectives, offering readers insight into the lives of various characters and providing further motivation for their actions. I was incredibly surprised to find out that the reason for Sam and Charlotte’s murder was not primarily for their money, but rather for something else, and it has inspired me to look into history books to determine what exactly within the story is fact and what is fiction!
Clevenger Gold easily captures your attention from the very beginning, with suspense, high stakes, and of course, murder. Swapp has clearly done extensive research, as the basic facts of the story are all true, including the Clevenger’s legacy of golden treasure. Clevenger Gold strikes a chord in the adventurer in us all, leaving readers to wonder about the possibility of the unclaimed treasure and perhaps inspire some to go out and search for it themselves. I really enjoyed reading this book!