The first book in Ledbetter's (West of Bliss, etc.) new historical mystery series, set in 1870s Denver, explodes into action when young detective/self-proclaimed "scientist" Josephine Beckworth Sawyer blows up her tool shed with homemade nitroglycerine. Blowing things up is only Joby's hobby; she pays the bills by manning her dead father's investigative firm. But since no one will hire a female detective, she pretends he's still alive. The intrepid private eye longs for something other than marital dispute cases, and she gets her wish when she's hired to track down a robber who may also be a murderer. Joby's Confucius-spouting Chinese guardian adds a touch of comic relief, and her overprotective constable "friend" provides the promise of romance. While a hurried, unresolved ending may leave some feeling cheated, others will be appeased by the author's luxuriant descriptions of herbal teas and poisons (recipes included). In the modern mystery genre there are far more spine-chilling thrillers than heartwarming cozies, but, with its witty wordplay and lovably eccentric characters, this slim, sprightly tale beckons readers to curl up in bed, not hide under it.