In Winkler's first novel, a young, fugitive bank-robber comes to the defense of a widow being terrorized by cowboys in frontier New Mexico. Her life and her farm seem scarcely worth having. Left to support three children, under pressure from neighboring land barons to get out of the way of their big operations, homesick for her family in Missouri, Cora Diemert would be excused by anyone for packing up and leaving the pathetic spread her husband staked out before he died. But she is a stubborn woman. The threats and bullying of the neighboring cowboys frighten and infuriate her, but rather than flee, she digs in harder. Into her bleak world rides Billy Shingleton, late of Kansas, on the lam after a botched bank job, pursued by the stern and relentless US Marshal Tom Alvarez. Billy is just passing through on his way west, but loses his horse to snakebite and has to stay with the widow to earn one of her mules, in his days at the ranch, Billy also earns Cora's trust and respect as he puts things in order and befriends Cora's young son; so when Marshal Alvarez comes looking for Bill, straight-laced Cora is willing to cover for him. Then Alvarez has an accident of his own and is trapped at the ranch with Billy. The pursuit of justice is set aside when the cowboys come to get rid of Cora and her ranch once and for all. Westerns such as this seem to be the last refuge of courtly romance and nobility. Pared down, hokum-free, honest, and satisfying.