“Double Crossing” was Meg Mims’ first published novel, though she has since published many, including the sequel to “Double Crossing” — “Double or Nothing.” “Double Crossing” won the 2012 Best First Novel Spur Award from the Western Writers of America, and it was also a finalist for the USA Book News Award for fiction.
“Double Crossing,” opens with Lily Granville, a beautiful, intelligent young woman who lives with and loves her father, trying to decide if she’ll defy him for the first time and marry a missionary bound and determined to take her to China. But before the final decision is made, her father dies of a gunshot wound and only Lily believes he didn’t commit suicide. Not only does she believe he was murdered, she believes she knows who did it — and why.
Lily’s fears are confirmed when she can’t find the deed to the California gold mine that the man she believes killed her father coveted, and she decides to save her father’s reputation and the gold mine. She strikes out on a train for California, accompanied by the missionary, a young Texan she hires to protect her and relatives she doesn’t like or trust. Long before she arrives in California, Lily discovers that she is now being hunted and her life is in danger. Unsure of who to trust and how best to proceed, Lily must learn quickly how to survive in a world she is completely unfamiliar with. If she doesn’t, it won’t just be her father’s reputation and gold mine that don’t survive.
“Double Crossing” is the first Western I’ve read that was written by a woman. It was not by design that I reached my 60th year without having done so, nor did I read this book specifically because it was written by a woman — and about a woman. I simply wanted to read it.
Meg’s protagonist, Lily Granville, has many of the traits that most of the women in Westerns have. She’s young, pretty and smart. However, rather than wait breathlessly while “her man,” against all odds, saves her (and, as often happens in Westerns, the town), Meg has Lily set out on her own to right a wrong.