The Penny Mansions

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With the Spanish flu pandemic on the rise, a former gold rush town—once the largest city in the Pacific Northwest—is threatened with extinction via eminent domain should their population fall below 125 citizens. To save their homes, former madam Maude Dollarhyde, her mixed-race grand-daughter, Bountiful, and their fellow council members agree to sell four abandoned mansions for a penny apiece if the buyers will stay in town long enough to be counted in the 1920 census. Soon, an eclectic cast of newcomers arrives, including a New York actor and his questionably-familial family; a lawyer with an agoraphobic wife, mute son, and austere nanny; six excommunicated Mormons; and the great-nephew of the town’s hated former boss. As real estate developer and politician Gerald Dredd plots to foil the council’s plan, the new families move in and knock over the first domino in a row that includes three romances, twelve sticks of dynamite, an unintentionally hilarious community theater production, an investigation by a Chicago insurance detective, and last of all, murder!

Praise for The Penny Mansions

“In The Penny Mansions, Steven Mayfield gives the history of the American West a good, hard shake and what falls out is an antic tale of small-town intrigue featuring, among other things, a homicidal dwarf, a rope-twirling child genius, a troupe of double-crossing thespians, and a town full of lovable eccentrics. Move over Mark Twain, Steven Mayfield is gaining on you.”

—Michael Bourne, author of Blithedale Canyon, contributing editor to Poet & Writers

“Mayfield is a yarn-spinner extraordinaire, a literary hypnotist, your maître d’ of immeasurable reading pleasures. Just crack these pages and see!”

—M. Allen Cunningham, author of Q&A

“Steven Mayfield has done it again! Like his 2020 novel, Treasure of the Blue Whale, The Penny Mansions magically evokes an entire town replete with characters as delightfully quirky and vivid as those we find in the best tradition of tongue-in-cheek American literature. With empathy and humor, a keen eye for detail, and a beautifully tuned ear, Mayfield’s narrative grabs the reader from the start and doesn’t let go.”

—Barbara Quick, award-winning poet and author of Vivaldi’s Virgins and What Disappears

“A Dickensian romp set in the early twentieth-century American West, Steven Mayfield’s The Penny Mansions breathes life into a colorful gallery of rogues and dreamers, of scoundrels and heroes. Echoes of modern-day corruption and skullduggery are balanced against a satisfyingly old-fashioned storytelling voice. Reminiscent of the big-hearted novels of John Irving, you’ll find yourself rooting for the lovable and plucky residents of Paradise, Idaho who go to extraordinary lengths to save their town…and each other.”

—Phillip Hurst, author of Regent’s of Paris, Whiskey Boys, and The Land of Ale and Gloom

“Steven Mayfield is a natural, old-school storyteller and The Penny Mansions is a yarn spun by a writer at the top of his craft. Replete with a villain named Dredd, a protagonist named Bountiful, and a ‘vole-like’ attorney named Mole, Mayfield’s Twain-in-cheek mix of history, humor, mayhem, and romance satisfies all the appetites. Paradise, Idaho, may not precisely live up to its name, but there’s definitely gold in them thar pages.”

—David R. Roth, award-winning author of The Femme Fatale Hypothesis

“Heartbreaking, heartwarming and hilarious. Set in the early 20th century, The Penny Mansions is brimming with evocative characters, rich historical detail, and gothic chills. Enter the village of Paradise, Idaho, and hold onto your hat (with the hand that’s not eagerly turning pages). This wild and wonderful community is about to battle catastrophe, villainy, and intrigue with all the competing heroics, conflicted loyalties, and quirky mischief it can muster. With surprises at every turn, this smart and funny novel hits all the high notes.”

—Shirley Reva Vernick, award-winning author of Ripped Away and The Sky We Shared