Michael Castleman. The Lost Gold of San Francisco (2003) 388 pp.
Publisher’s description: “It’s the day of the Big One, the 1906 earthquake. Fire engulfs the San Francisco Mint, as armed gangs plan to loot its vault. In the smoky chaos, a large shipment of misstruck $20 gold pieces leaves the Mint, headed for Denver to be melted back into bullion. The coins disappear. Only two of the gold pieces ever turn up. The become the most storied coins in U.S. history. The rest become the lost gold of San Francisco, the city’s most enduring mystery. Fast-forward to 1989. The billionaire publisher of San Francisco’s leading newspaper, The Foghorn, donates his priceless coin collection to the venerable California Museum. It contains one of the two known misstruck 1906 $20 gold pieces. Brash reporter Ed Rosenberg covers the even. Then the founder of the Museum turns up murdered. Ed chases the story all over the City by the Bay. Along the way, he encounters a rogue’s gallery of feisty San Franciscans: the bombastic editor of the alternative weekly, an art dealer with a thug on his payroll, the publisher of a sleazy skin magazine, a rabbinical school drop-out who shoots a mean game of pool, a young Chinese-American reporter with a black belt in karate, and a talented public relations woman who’s even more talented in private. More bodies drop, and Ed suspects a connection with the lost gold. Soon Ed isn’t just reporting the story. Someone is shooting at him.”