As 1879 draws to a close, this Rocky Mountain boomtown has
infected the world with silver fever. It's not much
different than the dot-com mania or the corporate scams
that heat up over a century later.
Unfortunately for Joe Rose, a precious-metals assayer,
death stakes its own claim. Joe's body is found trampled
into the muck behind Inez Stannert's saloon. Inez already
had much more to deal with than pouring shots of Taos
Lightning and cleaning up a corpse. A lady educated on the
East Coast, she has a past that doesn't bear close
scrutiny, including her elopement with a gambling man who
has recently disappeared.
Most townsfolk, including Inez's business partner, Abe
Jackson, dismiss Joe's death as an accident. Death, after
all, is no stranger in Leadville. But Inez wonders: Why was
this loving husband and father carrying a brass token good
for "one free screw" at the exclusive parlor house of
Denver madam Mattie Silks?
When Joe's widow Emma asks Inez to settle Joe's affairs,
almost against her will, Inez uncovers skewed assays, bogus
greenbacks, and blackmail. Lies and secrets run deep in
Colorado, secrets more likely to lead to a hanging than to
today's congressional hearings or country-club prisons for
the crooked and the greedy. Then again, maybe Joe's murder
was purely personal....