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Synopsis

Inez Stannert, one of the partners in the Silver Queen Saloon in Leadville, Colorado, travels to a fashionable summer retreat for a reunion with her son, now a toddler in the care of her sister. Manitou, at the foot of Pike’s Peak, was not just a spa tourism destination in the summer of 1880—it was often a last resort for those ill with tuberculosis. Inez and her photographer friend Susan chose the stage coach for the scenery, but their journey to Manitou turns lethal when East Coast businessman Edward Pace grows faint, swigs some medicine, and dies under their horrified gaze. On their arrival at the posh Mountain Springs House, Pace’s widow rejects a weak heart theory and begs Inez to investigate. As Inez digs deeper, she uncovers the shady side of spa tourism including spurious claims, profiteering from the coming bonanza in medicinal waters and miracle cures, and medical practitioners who kindle false hopes in the desperate and the dying. Pace’s sudden demise is not the only event that tarnishes Inez’s hopes of a happy reunion with her son and sister. Mark Stannert has reappeared after a year ­and ­a ­half’s unexplained absence. Now she must fight to hold on to her child and the life she has built for herself in an era where “independent woman” is an oxymoron.

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