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Dying young brings focus to the lives of extraordinary people. Both Jesse James and his older brother Frank suffered injustice and great family loss. In retribution, the pair robbed trains and banks together; but one of them outlived his celebrity. What happens to half a legend--the half that was too clever to die young?

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When Nelly Bly wannabe Jemima McBustle attends a lavish production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a humdinger of a story drops right in her lap. The actor playing Tom Loker collapses on stage. The golden boy is local celebrity Quisenberry Sproat, better known as a boxer than as an actor.  Jemmy’s classmate, the stunningly beautiful Sassy Patterson, counts him among her many beaus.

Investigating Sproat's case takes Jemmy through the boxing clubs of the St. Louis Turnverein and the seamy side of the St. Louis theatre scene. Clues lure her across the city on a frantic chase. She pursues the story from theatrical dressing rooms to an actor’s hotel to the office of the St. Louis coroner and Frank James's plush cell in the city jail.

Jemmy faces many a challenge in November of 1898. Back home, flu has sidelined all but three of the seven females who staff the McBustle boarding house--and one of them has a broken arm.  With a Thanksgiving feast to produce, could the timing be worse?

Perhaps the greatest challenge of all comes from Jemmy’s heart. Three men--two of them handsome--pursue her. All three propose--sort of. Will she choose marriage, a career, or?