In her fourth adventure (Leaden Skies, 2008, etc.), Inez Stannert, a partner in the Silver Queen Saloon in Leadville, finds 1880 Colorado no more receptive to a woman of independent spirit.
Inez’s husband Mark, Civil War veteran and professional charmer, vanished over a year ago. But now, as she’s seeking to restore some order to her life by getting a divorce, he suddenly returns. Furious but undaunted, Inez continues her plan to visit the Manitou Mountain Springs House, where her sister has arrived from the East with Inez’s young son, whose lung condition requires him to live at a lower elevation. On the stage trip down to Manitou, businessman Edward Pace, feeling ill, takes a swig of his wife's tonic and dies before their eyes. When his widow asks Inez to investigate, she quickly discovers that the hotel is a hotbed of deception and danger. The hotel doctor, a specialist in tuberculosis, makes up special tonics that the patients think are so effective that they wouldn't dream of leaving the hotel and those that are near death are quietly removed. Her brother-in-law is being wooed by the hotel owners to invest in the property. Someone pushes her down the stairs, but she survives her mishap, only to face death again in a carriage accident. Despite her misgivings about their partnership, Inez feels that she must call upon her wily husband to come to town posing as a likely investor if she’s to decipher the secrets that threaten her and her family.
Though the meandering mystery won’t tax your brain, Parker remains worth reading for the historical detail and the descriptions of a stunning area of Colorado.