Leaving behind a life of secrets proves no easy task.
Cast off by her wealthy family for marrying charming scoundrel Mark Stannert, Inez Stannert settled in Leadville, Colorado, where she ran the Silver Queen Saloon. After vanishing for a year, Mark returns with a pregnant girlfriend. Since her plans for divorce would be ruined if her affair with the Rev. Justice Sands came to light, Inez takes her ward, Antonia Gizzi (What Gold Buys, 2016, etc.), to San Francisco, where she manages a music store owned by flamboyant violinist Nico Donato. Donato’s daughter Carmella is in love with Jamie Monroe, a musician who may have been murdered. In the middle of this intrigue, Inez isn’t prepared for the arrival of Mrs. Florence Sweet, with whom she owns a whorehouse in Leadville, along with someone else who knows a lot about her past, wealthy mine owner Harry Gallagher, who’s come to search for his son, Robert. Harry brought Robert out West to keep him out of trouble. When that didn’t work, he forced the boy into an engagement to a wealthy girl who killed herself when he jilted her. Furious, Harry has brought with him Wolter Roeland de Bruijn, a private detective, and threatened to ruin both Flo and Inez if they don’t find his son, who has a large birthmark on his chest, before the equally furious father of the dead fiancee succeeds. When Inez identifies Jamie Monroe, who’s been beaten to death and thrown in a filthy channel, as Robert, Gallagher gives Inez, Flo, and Brown a week to find the killer. Inez concentrates on Jamie’s involvement in trying to restart the moribund musicians’ union, but the sinister possibilities seem endless.
By far the best of the mysteries featuring Parker’s clever heroine. In addition to its historical interest, it provides a more complex problem to solve and leaves open a future in which her crime solver works with a mysterious new partner.