Thea Barlow, an ex-school teacher from Chicago, Illinois, gets a job with her uppity boss/cousin as an editor for Western True Adventures, a magazine of the Old West. Her first assignment is to get the story of Halfway Halt, a defunct whorehouse in Hijax, Wyoming. Nervous about the assignment and proving her worth, Thea takes herself off to the “wilds” to meet Minnie Darrow, the present owner of Halfway Halt.When she arrives at the old place, she meets Max Holman, ex-townie, ex-“woolie,” who threatens her on a lonely dirt road; Jim and Helby Enright, who own the land that the whorehouse sits on; Parson Potts, the local travelin’ preacher, who’d just as soon see Thea Barlow run out of town, as was Lil Darrow, Minnie’s older sister, seventy years before.
Then she’s met with anger and hostility from the townsfolk, who suspect she’s there as a “new girl” for the whorehouse! And the townsfolk do not want the old ways revived in their neighborhood.
When a local woman is murdered outside the town meeting hall after a country dance, and Minnie Darrow is found unconscious in a barrow pit, Thea realizes that someone is going to great lengths to keep Halfway Halt’s decades-old secrets from being revealed–and she must solve the mystery in order to save her own life.
Set in wide, lonely expanses of Wyoming, and peopled with characters reminiscent of the Old West, this is a history of an era as well as a modern-day murder mystery.