“Tim Brown is a shining example of the great good that can be accomplished by one dedicated and moral individual - his dedication and devoted efforts toward serving the most vulnerable members of the Sacramento Community have helped provide… homes to hundreds of chronically homeless people.”
Darrell Steinberg - Mayor, City of Sacramento
Timothy A. Brown earned a masters degree in Social Work from Sacramento State University in 1984 and is a licensed Clinical Social Worker. An expert on the community treatment of mental illness and addiction; as well as the causes and solutions to homelessness, he has published reports and given expert testimony to 20 Superior Courts, local governments and the California State Legislature. His writing is inspired by actual events drawn from his thirty-five years of experience as a street level organizer/activist and manager of innovative mental health and homeless programs in Sacramento, California. A recipient of many community service awards, Mr. Brown delivered a Commencement Address to 600 graduates of the College of Health and Human Services, Sacramento State University in 2005 and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter in 2011. A member of the Loreto Writers Collective since 2012, his short stories were published in “Reflections by the Sea” in 2015 with Blurb. This collection of short stories is about the ex-patriot experience in Baja California, Mexico.
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Squatter's Gold is Book 1 of the 'Sam White Homeless Mysteries' series, introducing a historical novel based on the experiences of a successful 1850 California Gold Rush prospector, Sacramento’s historic Squatter’s Riots, and the legend of lost gold hidden in a tree. With such diverse roots in reality, it seems a no-brainer that a story based upon these events would be engrossing, and Squatter's Gold lives up to this expectation with a fast-paced, multifaceted plot that keeps readers enthralled and involved right up to the end.
The first thing to note about Squatter's Gold is that its timeline moves unexpectedly between 1850s California history and events to modern-day 2002, where homelessness in the state's capital city is rampant.
It's unusual to see a historical background paired with an modern urban mystery, but Timothy A. Brown deftly pulls off this marriage of timelines in a production that will attract the very different audiences of history buffs and readers interested in the social issues of poverty and homelessness. The central character is a social worker who is anything but an investigator, but who finds himself drawn to past and present in an unusual manner.
As the story evolves, readers receive solid descriptions that range from murder in a homeless encampment to political and social advocacy efforts and Sam's efforts to address the homeless issue: "Sam knew Police and Park Rangers who would shake their heads at the notion of ending homeless camping simply by enforcement. When campers took their cases to court the City often lost and keeping homeless people in jail for non-violent offenses was a huge waste of money the city couldn’t afford. Of course the constant camping citations did criminalize homeless people, many of whom suffered from addictions and mental illness."
At this point it should be pointed out that readers who pick up Squatter's Gold anticipating either a Gold Rush adventure or a hardboiled mystery will find that this mercurial story is neither; yet embraces some of the drama and trappings of both. While readers of formula and genre productions who seek entertainment value alone might chafe at the additional depth and social perspectives offered in a leisure read, the result elevates the entire production beyond the usual confines of a singular genre choice to create an engrossing series of encounters that send Sam on a treasure hunt beyond his wildest dreams as a social worker.
As threatening notes, homeless community interrelationships, and violence emerge, Sam finds his job moves into street encounters and efforts to save a legendary treasure and vindicate a man's death over its discovery.
Readers who like their stories firmly rooted in a sense of place (in this case, California's Sacramento) and a sense of purpose (Sam's newfound efforts to make a difference in the lives of the homeless) will find Squatter's Gold a compelling, vivid read whose underlying consideration of social issues will linger in the mind as much as its story of a struggle for gold and new opportunities.