Jess Darrringer ws a wanderer and his family had a reputation as gunfighters. His oldest btother had became a lawyer and was trying to get two others out of trouble. Jess also was a reader and the most even tempered of the bunch.
So when his youngest brother Sam brought him the letter from their mother, he expected trouble. The woman he'd left behind, Sue Ellen Cambridge, had ben murdered in the night, a locket and a music box taken. The only evidence found was a dropped receipt that named a saddlry in Buzzard Creek, the custer identified only as Colby. Mother wanted him to find the five and have them arrested. She trusted Jess to do that rather than gun them down.
Arriving at Buzzard Creek with Sam, they find three factions in town. The Colby family and the Hatcher family, both ranching clans, were antagonists. The third was Ed range who represented the railroad that was conssidering a spur in town.
Right away, Jess and Sam get involved in rescuing Lorena Colby from some Hatcher people who took her prisoner in a failed bank robbery.
Here's where it gets complicated. Lorena falls for him, but is "sort" of engaged to Grange. Grange's sister seems interested in him as well. He finds himswelf liking Old Man Colby, though none of his sons. The Hatchers don't like him either.
Jess makes it known why he's there, hoping to draw the killers out and gets rewarded by a murder attempt on himself.
He goes on, determined to do it without violence. But you know how that goes.
Not a bad novel