Over the years, rancher Luke Lilavelt built his Window Sash brand from a podunk operation into a full-fledged cattle empire. But he didn’t do it through hard work. He added to his holdings through bloody methods only marginally within the law.
And most of those methods were carried out by Dave Wall, Lilavelt’s troubleshooter.
The work hurt Wall’s reputation considerably. But Wall knew it wouldn’t hurt as much as Lilavelt revealing the secrets he’s holding about his brother-in-law’s checkered past. So Wall keeps doing the miserly coward’s dirty work.
But when he’s finally had enough and refuses to be Lilavelt’s strongarm any longer, Lilavelt makes good on his threat to reveal the secrets, forcing Wall to find a way to stop Lilavelt’s plans, or see his brother-in-law end up in prison—or worse.
Bruce Martell is a man of principle. Riding into Indio Basin in search of his kid brother, he immediately feels uneasy. Before he can encounter even a single settler, he happens upon the corpses of four poached cows.
After a brief encounter with the angry owner of the slaughtered cattle, he makes his way into the town of Starlight. Here he finds a climate of hostility, the farmers and settlers pitted against the cowboys and cattlemen. He feels the settlers’ hostility keenly, and after an altercation with a drunkard, he finds himself in need of rescue from the angry mob—and he finds it in the beautiful, red-haired Tracy Carling.
Starlight is fraught with tension, and the mysterious Jason Spelle seems to be fanning the flames of hatred. Can Bruce Martell get to the bottom of the conflict and find his brother before the tension breaks out into an all-out war? When settlers start turning up dead, it seems like there will be no escape from violence.
In Black Rock Desert, when Lee Cone is hired by Braz Boland to chouse a herd of horses from Carbide Junction into Maacama Basin through Black Rock Desert, he has no idea that it will reignite the old enmity between himself and Tasker Scott. Cone had left the basin two years earlier, when the girl he loved married Scott. When the horse herd reaches Antelope, the basin’s town, Boland refuses to pay Cone because of a horse stampede that happened going through the pass into the basin. Cone quickly learns that Scott has been running rough-shod over the basin and that his old partner in the Flat T Ranch, Buck Theodore, has been made destitute due to the rustling of their stock. Cone is determined to find out what has been going on in the basin, even if it means hurting the woman he once loved.
In the title story, Buck English has been a hard and bitter loner willing to step outside the law ever since his father, Martin, former sheriff of the county, had been killed by outlaws. A friend of Martin’s, Jack Carleton, is sheriff now as well as the owner of the Red Mesa Ranch. Carleton fears that someday he will have to go after Buck if he continues on the trail he is on. To that end, he hires Buck to take over the ramrodding of his ranch as his duties as sheriff do not allow him to tend to the duties of his ranch, which has been suffering from rustling. Buck agrees, but he must submit to Carleton’s order that gunplay is not allowed.