Determined, it seems, to follow in the footsteps of her aunt, librarian/sleuth Glynis Tryon (Through a Gold Eagle, 1996, etc.), Bronwen Llyr has persuaded Allan Pinkerton to accept her as a detective-in-training. Her first, allegedly routine assignment is to accompany southern railroad investor Thaddeus Dowling--posing as his daughter Jane--to the founding convention of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery to find out how likely it is that the newly-formed Confederacy will appropriate Dowling's railroads. But a telltale conversation Bronwen overhears about a sinister plot code-named Equus--coupled with the ``accidental'' deaths of two other Pinkerton agents on the same assignment--makes her realize there's much more at stake than some endangered investments. Unwilling to update imperious Pinkerton lest he recall her to Chicago, Bronwen allies herself by turns with two unlikely men--Guy Seagram, a Maryland delegate to the secession convention, and Tristan Marshall, who's wanted for murder--in a frantic effort to race to Baltimore, where Equus is evidently poised to strike. Insinuating Bronwen into the history of President Lincoln's inaugural requires more adventure than detection, but spirited Bronwen and her author are more than equal to the demands of their high mission. Besides, why should Allan Pinkerton, or James Bond, have all the fun of saving the sacred cause of freedom?