THE DANGEROUS ANGEL AFFAIR—1872 [The Historical Mysteries] by Clarence Budington Kelland

Anneke's aim was loot, not love...

“The time is the Eighteen Seventies; the place is gaudy, lavish San Francisco. Anneke Villard, of haunting grace, comes to the city on the Golden Gate with Hepsibah, her duenna, from Kentucky. There is no love in Anneke’s eyes, no desire to turn her beauty to account save for money. Once accepted into society (that being bankers, real estate and mining speculators) Anneke listens to conversation with naive charm. From tidbits dropped here and there she finds ways to fatten her bankroll through stock coups of various kinds. Anneke's aim is loot, not love. In San Francisco, too, she finds Juan Vallejo Parnell, a debonair young mining engineer. With piercing insight, Juan is able to discern that beneath Anneke's acquisitive exterior beats a heart capable of love…. Juan mocks Anneke, and she mocks him right back. True love and appropriate tender sentiments take a back seat as Anneke unwittingly gets mixed up in someone else’s diamond field hoax and implicated in their plot to hoodwink gullible bankers and investors [but] the hoaxers actually want Anneke out of the way. …Slick, swift, entertaining.”
The New York Times

Anneke Villard came to San Francisco at the height of its silver rush—and one of the most lavish spending sprees any metropolis had ever seen. She was determined to win a fortune for herself. Unlike most of the other women who were flooding to the city, she was determined to do it with her brains instead of her body.

The Dangerous Angel Affair is the story of a hard-boiled and beautiful adventuress, of coveted riches and an unwanted love—and of a fabulous hoax that nearly wrecked the wildest boom in San Francisco's history. Americans were making a dazzling recovery from the Civil War when Anneke arrived in California; she saw rich citizens piling up fortunes overnight in gold, silver, railroads, and new speculations. Her father had died, leaving her little, and riches were more important to her than romance. Anneke was determined to get her share of the loot, play her stakes high and alone.

As her bankroll fattened, Anneke's schemes ran head-on against those of two ruthless malefactors, men who claimed to have found a fabulous, jewel-rich mountain and produced bags of real diamonds to prove it. Although she spurned him, Anneke could have used the help of Juan Parnell, the dashing young man who found her mind and beauty an irresistible combination. She made only one mistake—she forgot that that some men will do anything, including murder, to protect an enterprise worth millions.

Based on an amazing true episode of history, this is one of the most exciting tales ever to come from the hand of the master storyteller Clarence Budington Kelland, one of America’s best loved mystery writers, more popular even than Rex Stout and Agatha Christie. The Dangerous Angel Affair is considered one of this acclaimed author’s very best books.

“Romance-suspense-action set against a historical background that is dramatic in itself. Mr. Kelland is to be congratulated. Exceptional.” —Los Angeles Times

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About the Author

Clarence Budington Kelland was author of nearly 100 novels of mystery and romantic suspense, had enough careers for several men: attorney, reporter, manufacturer of clothespins, director of a major newspaper group, and more. Kelland became best known as a fiction writer, penning some 100 novels, and selling them as serials to the biggest and highest paying magazines of the time—like The Saturday Evening Post, The American Magazine, Colliers, and Cosmopolitan. Many were immortalized on film, of which the romantic suspense comedy and Oscar-winner, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, is undoubtedly the most famous. Kelland appeared alongside Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner in the same magazines, but was the most popular of the four. The New York Times described Kelland’s novels as “lively stories, designed to prick the jaded palate, that keep readers pleasantly entertained” and noted that “Kelland demonstrates the emotions of his lovers with a psychological penetration.” Kirkus Reviews called his novels “Bright and breezy, with plus appeal for murder-mystery addicts.” His magazine publishers kept besieging him for more novels because every time they serialized one of them (typically in 6-8 installments), circulation shot upward. Kelland obliged, and produced far more each year than his publisher (Harper and Row) could keep up with, leaving more than three dozen unpublished in book form when he died. His inimitable characters, trademark dialogue and deftly plotted stories, according to Harper, “made him an American tradition and won him more loyal, devoted readers than almost any other living author.” Kelland, as ever self-depreciating, simply described himself as “the best second-rate writer in the world.” His legions of fans, old and new, would likely disagree. There was nothing second-rate about his work.