Set in the wild Colorado territory of 1864, Denver City Justice is the story of the newly married Millie and Dom Drouillard. Their wedding is the opening scene, and it is anything but quiet and dignified with outspoken guests, a fist fight, an attempt by a rejected suitor to marry the bride, and a horde of extremely hungry gold-miners barely containing themselves long enough to see the ceremony complete before they attack the food table. In spite of all this, the wedding sees its conclusion and merriment ensues. A quiet wedding night of marital bliss is what the newlyweds look forward to but that is not to be as the groom’s friends arrange to ‘kidnap’ him (this was a tradition in lieu of a bachelor party). Widow Ferris, whose husband was killed in Book 1 of this series, is at her finest as she has been busy blackmailing almost everyone in the room. Unfortunately, while Dom is out carousing, Widow Ferris meets her untimely death via an icicle through her heart. And because there is a period of time that Dom can’t account for, he was rather drunk after all, he is blamed for the woman’s brutal killing.
The story proceeds in the vein of a cozy mystery but with a wonderful backdrop of the unsettled West, the early gold mining towns and the colorful characters that populated them, along with a host of friendly Arapahoe Indians. Ms. Bell’s characters are fully rounded and complex and she has done a wonderful job of assembling a cast of suspicious characters who all have a reason to see the Widow Ferris dead – and yes Dom is among them. But Millie is convinced that her new husband is innocent and proceeds to move heaven and earth to prove his innocence. Until Marshal Hunt arrives from Denver and arrests the newlywed. Millie is afraid that she won’t be able to save Dom from a lynching. But don’t discount the fact a group of town matrons and one fancy woman can do quite a bit when they band together. By the end of the book, you’ll feel as though you’ve made an entire town’s worth of new friends. And for those who have read the first book in the series – The Lucky Hat Mine – you’ll be happy to know that Buttercup, the fainting goat, is back!
I thoroughly enjoyed Denver City Justice. It is a change of pace from the usual mysteries that are set in old homes, libraries, book stores, or any of the other myriad places with which we are accustomed. Along with great descriptions the reader is treated to a bit of cleverly disguised American history. This book is great for readers of Westerns, murder mysteries, and American history. This reader hopes there is another book in the series.
I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the author. All comments are purely my personal opinion.
Rating: 5 stars