Mesabi Pioneers has a new review, this one from the Historical Novel Society.
A little-known side chapter in nineteenth-century American history forms the basis for this tightly-constructed and well-done novel (the first in a projected trilogy): the discovery of rich deposits of iron ore in Mesabi Range of northern Minnesota in 1891 – and the subsequent development of that discovery into a booming industry, America’s greatest source of iron ore. Hill and Smith humanize their story in the person of Finnish immigrant Arthur Maki, crew boss Leondidas “Lon” Merritt, and a multi-faceted cast of secondary characters who gradually assemble around the dream of building first a camp and then a town around the industry the Mesabi claim generates.
Hill and Smith pepper their story with some very good character development (this book is as much a story of Arthur Maki’s personal growth as it is anything else), plenty of sarcastic humor, and a good deal of research into a period never before explored in historical fiction. In their handling, the enterprising and occasionally cutthroat, bygone world of iron mining comes vividly alive. A strong debut installment.