Young Clay Roland learns that his father has died suddenly at his ranch in Skull Mesa. During the late 19th century, powerful ranchers are trying to take over more grazing land for their cattle. Clay had left his father’s ranch, the Bar C, over a disagreement several years ago. Since then, he became a town marshal and is known for his ability with the gun. Roland returns home to find that a local rancher, known as Queen Bess, controls Skull Mesa and the local town of Painted Rock. He soon learns that his life is in danger because Queen Bess wants the Bar C and Roland dead. Clay decides to stay in Skull Mesa and fight her and her gang of cutthroats.
The author is a Spur Award winner and writer of many fine westerns. I have enjoyed his tales over the years. His knowledge of western lore is unsurpassed, and his ability to spin a tale is comparable to many other western writers today. He has a knack for placing his protagonist, in this story Clay Roland, in life-threatening situations throughout the book. The plot is fast-paced and gripping. Highly recommended for western novel enthusiasts.