Originally published as an Avalon hardback.
It may be cool way up north in Montana where cowhand Clay Braddock is headed, but at the moment he is riding through hot, parched desert country, and he stops in Green Valley for a beer for himself and water for his horse Nick. But the bartender has a chip on his shoulder, and the saloon has nothing but idle gunfighters in it. In a short amount of time he crosses one gunfighter twice, shoots another one in the arm, and discovers that a drought and a murder have the entire valley about to explode in a deadly range war. He would have left town as fast as he could, but two other gunfighters steal Nick, his gear, and his money.
Braddock is stuck. The town's marshal was murdered by gunfighters, and the deputy quickly left town. The only way Braddock can figure out how to get Nick back is to accept the mayor's offer to make him the new marshal; no one else would take the job. He's given a badge cut from the bottom of a tin can, the loan of a horse, and the jail to sleep in. And he tries to find Nick as fast as he can so he can be on his way to Montana before all hell breaks loose.
But things get complicated. He actually retrieves Nick fairly quickly, but beautiful Sally Anderson, the daughter of the town's doctor, takes his breath away, and she seems to have taken a shine to him. No longer eager to leave quite so fast and taking his job as marshal seriously, he quickly finds himself pulled into the conflict between the two big ranchers in the valley, Judson Davis and Angus McIntyre. And he tries to avert what he sees as the terrible waste of the coming disaster.That is, if he isnít killed before he can accomplish that.