This light hearted story effectively recreates the sights and smells of Denver becoming rich from the profits of the western mines. In the deadening heat of summer, feisty young Josephine Beckworth (Joby) attempts to set herself up as an independent detective. Gender distinctions being what they are, she must pretend she is temporarily standing in for her father, who actually died on the trip West. Luckily, Joby is a real pro at dissembling and talking her way into getting the information she needs. Desperate for funds, she takes a crack at trying to uncover precious jewels from two robberies, and on her own finding way to get a cowed wife out of an abusive marriage. Oh yes, there also is a murder to be solved.
The story introduces two other interesting characters. One is her servant and mentor the educated Chinese man Wo Li; the other, a charming policeman called Jack OShaughnessy. The witty give and take and sexual tension between Joby and Jack makes for toe tingling reading. The author has employed the language of the time, and done a fine job providing insights into the gender roles of the time. For example, Joby has to drag around in her dark, jersey wool dress and black cloche, and ride side saddle in town in order to appear respectable. And divorce for a woman is darn hard to achieve. One does wonder at a few things. Would pineapple be available to people in Denver then, and would Jody have a cashmere sweater?
The author give us no real date for the story nor separate historical information. This is the first of the Joby Beckword series.