Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens just lost his first election in 17 years. Maybe folks in the Arizona Territory were ready for a change…and then again, maybe Stringer ought to go have a look-see. The trouble is, Perry's vanished and everyone who knew him is either dead or vanished too. But when hot lead and hard knuckles start flying, Stringer's belt-buckle deep in ghostly mystery and willing women. And even if the ghosts may be hokum, the women are flesh-and-blood beauties!
He's making news with his fists, his gun…and the ladies. The San Francisco Sun's freelance field stringer Stuart "Stringer" MacKail needs a new story to sell to pay the bills. His editor sends him back to MacKail's home town in Calaveras County for an update on an old legend about a stagecoach robbery by "Sulky Jack" and its missing treasure. Stringer's feet barely hit the ground when the bullets begin flying and it quickly becomes clear that folks are still trying to find the treasure and will stop anyone who gets in their way.
When a legendary old gunslinger finally meets his Maker in some godforsaken West Texas town, Stringer heads to the scene for what he thinks is a routine story. But when he gets to Comanche Woe, it turns out he's landed in the middle of a dust storm of trouble. It's open season on wanted men. A wily varmint called Buckskin Jack Blair has crowned himself Marshal. And murderous vigilantes and bounty hunters are crawling out of the woodwork. When the bullets start flying, Stringer can't tell the outlaws from the lawmen…
When freight trains conquered the West, the big, dusty drives of beef on the hoof became just a colorful piece of cowboy nostalgia. So when a cattle baron called C. J. Tarington aims to punch a thousand-plus head through the unforgiving heat and sage of the Great Basin, some say he's a mite simple, or crazy, or both. Stringer thinks it's something else. And sure enough, a pack of bloodthirsty varmints is robbing trains all along the cattle trail.
Only Pancho Villa, king of bandits, is gutsy enough to make war on Terrazas the tyrant. And only Villa would sell tickets to one of his massacres. A curious mob settles along the Rio Grande, waiting for a bloodbath. They don't know that they've wasted their two bits on a phony war. Only one man is wise to Villa's crafty fake - Stringer MacKail. The adventurer-turned-newsman saddles a fast horse and tracks the real war to Mexico's sun-parched badlands. The desert erupts in a hellish inferno of torture and death as Villa's fearless gang shoots it out with Terraza's battle-scarred army.
When miners dig up the Yana Indians' sacred burial ground, the tribe goes on the warpath. And after a couple of deputy sheriffs are found with so many arrows sticking out of them they look like porcupines, the miners grab their guns and axes. Even a little Indian war is big news in the fading days of the Wild West, so Stringer rides out to investigate. But something just ain't right. For one thing, the arrows that killed the deputies are not Yana arrows. And the varmints who dug up the Indian graves aren't miners.
Even a newspaperman with Stringer MacKail's brand of courage knows you can't cover a stalemated miners' strike without getting on somebody's fightin' side. But that won't stop Stringer from trying to get some ink on the gold miners' sit-down out in Cripple Creek. Unfortunately, the only word he's heard so far is vamoose. Seems the Mine Owners' Association doesn't take kindly to pesky reporters, and would like to put Stringer out of commission-for keeps. That is, if Big Bill Heywood and his Federation of Miners don't do it first....
Dead men don't tell tales. Neither do dead women or children. And when their corpses have been dryin' out in the desert sun for fifty years, there's nary a whisper left of what happened. So when the six Mojave mummies are found near Esperanza, it's up to Stringer to get the story. But someone in Esperanza wants him to just plain git.... First there's that invite to butt out, signed with a skull. Then the town welcome wagon wants to give him a buckshot bouquet.
Usually it takes Stringer a little while to rile folks in a new town. But no sooner does he step off the train in Tulsa, than some sidewinder is doing his best to turn Stringer into yesterday's news. The hot story in Tulsa is the oil boom. It seems you can't dig a grave without hitting black gold. And Stringer's there to write the story. But MacKail's never seen such a sorry assortment of low-down, hornswoggling bushwhackers. Because, as Stringer well knows, where there's money, there's outlaws and lawyers....
Everyone knows that Salton's Sink is the driest patch of greasewood in the whole damned Colorado Desert. So when a slick land syndicate promises cheap water to a pack of greenhorn settlers, Stringer is more than a mite suspicious.
The way Stringer sees it, some cuss hard-up for a laugh planted that news tip about Tombstone being flooded, because that dusty town is about as dry as they come. But Stringer sure as hell ain't laughing when his newspaper boss sends him to Arizona to root out the truth. And the fast-gun that's trying to kill him, ain't kidding.
They say Judge Roy Bean's been up to some legal tomfoolery again. And it's MacKail's job to get the scoop on the infamous "hanging judge." But someone is out to stop Stringer…dead.
Cheyenne, Wyoming. A town that's leaping into the 20th century spurs first. Pretty soon Cheyenne will be just as newfangled fancy as any Eastern city-but the folks there still know how to have fun. First the rodeo…and then the hanging. It's the rodeo that Stringer's been sent out to write about. However, before he knows it, he's up to his neck in the West's most notorious murder case. They're fixin' to hang Tom Horn…but something in town smells worse than a stableboy's boots, and Stringer aims to find out what.
The train robbery was bad. It cost Stringer 30 dollars. But when the Wild Bunch gives MacKail a .45 caliber invite to hear their side of what a nice bunch of boys they really are, it's an offer he can't refuse. After all, they're all mothers' sons, even if they would cut a man's throat for his boots. Even so, when Stringer decides to ride along, it has less to do with an exclusive than the gun pointed at his back. And when the shooting starts, MacKail's caught between the crossfire of a rabid posse and the meanest bunch of murdering, lying, cheating hombres to ever draw breath.…
Stringer was just doing his job when he went to hear Teddy Roosevelt speak at a railway stop in Granger, Wyoming. But Stringer's job is to write about the speech - not get shot at! So suddenly a certain reporter has a powerful curiosity about who wants him six feet under. There's just one hitch: Stringer can't be sure if the bullet was meant for him or old Teddy. Now all MacKail has to do is dodge a pack of hired killers, swap lead with a few train robbers, match wits with a renegade Shoshoni, and bed a few lusty ladies on a trail that can end on the front page - or the obituaries….