In his first novel, McCague told of Indiana railroading and of engineer hero Jem Gandee. This second novel, in a manner mindless and uninformed, focuses on Jem's brother Ed, drawing on the same small town situations and characters. In 1900, at 22, Gandee became a reporter for the weekly Barcelona Beacon after quitting his job at Patterson's Carriage Works, apparently throwing over a well-charted future which promised a marriage with Patterson's wholesome daughter, Gildy. The arrival of the mysterious, voluptuous Lilith Jones and her companion, touted financier, J. Fate Smallwood, who offered investment in Nevada gold mining to the town's elite, and the subsequent suicide of the Beacon's staid publisher provided Gandee with his biggest story and polarized his relationship with his canny friend Ake Witheroe. After exposing the colorful visitors as frauds, Gandee settles back as a Stay-At-Home, Ake takes off with Lilith, Makes Good in the Big City. The Depression Thirties bring Ake and Lilith back briefly to Barcelona (they're on the lam again) and reaffirm Editor Ed's inertia. Incredible Hoosier hokum.