After spending an unknown number of days caged, chained, and tortured in the darkness of a root cellar by men wearing hoods who insist he robbed a bank and killed several women, twenty-five-year-old Ben Hawthorne is rescued by four men. But who are these men and why were they looking for him—the son of Eli and Cora Hawthorne, born on a ranch outside of Nacogdoches, Texas, orphaned at ten when his parents were killed by Comanches, and then taken by the Comanches who gave him his Indian name, Newcomer.
When he learns that his “rescuers” are in fact bounty hunters who believe he is the son of a rancher named Locklin, he doesn’t understand. Matters become even more puzzling when he is taken to the home of Locklin and the big-time rancher recognizes him as his missing son of five years, Seth. Things continue to confuse Ben when he is shown a picture of Seth and it is like looking in a mirror. Hawthorne knows who he is, but everyone he meets believes he is Seth, including Seth’s sister and Caitlan Black, the spitfire who was Seth’s childhood friend, who is ready to go to war with Arch Locklin over access to water.
At age thirty-five, Federal Marshal Buck Fyffe had eleven years’ experience as a lawman. When he and Deputy Steve Larson were charged with taking the outlaw Luther Gibbs to the newly established Yuma Territorial Prison, he wasn’t expecting any problems.
Gibbs and his gang had stolen $25,000 from Southwestern. When Larson gets snakebit and dies, Fyffe finds himself almost three days away from the Yuma prison with no one to spell him while he sleeps. It doesn’t take long for Gibbs’s gang, who had been looking for their leader, to find them when Fyffe fires a shot as Gibbs tries to get away. Fyffe is overtaken by the gang and suffers at their hands.
The gang hatches a plan for Gibbs to pose as Fyffe and one of his men to pose as Larson, and to deliver Fyffe to Yuma prison, claiming he is Luther Gibbs. In spite of Fyffe’s insistence that he is in fact the federal marshal, he finds himself as prisoner number 109. In addition to fearing that Gibbs will get to the money and get away, Fyffe must survive in a prison where he’ll surely be recognized by someone he sent there.