A double track story follows the fortunes of four men who are determined to be the sole owners of a recently uncovered gold lode and the result of their having railed out four others who would be dangerous to their plan. Preacher Shanks and his three willing desperadoes send the gambler, Hobson, the pickpocket Quarles, the drunkard Ibbers and the simpleton Samuel out of Coach End on the road over The Pass where a blizzard almost finishes them. They meet another group, heading into Coach End and through the interlocking of their lives and purposes, return to try to give Shanks his due. For Mary Redden and her son Jamie are claiming Shanks as the boy's grandfather; Hobson and Ibbers discover the secret of their exile and as they come back they find out that Shanks has used every means to terrorize and murder the men that have been allowed to stay on. It is young Willis who has grown in stature when he sees his partner killed, who plans to retrieve their guns and to whom Jamie is entrusted after fire, flood, an explosion and gun and knife have felled the hunter and the hunted. Scenes and characters of desperate brutality add to the grim menace; the lawlessness of the late 1860's in Arizona territory and the goads by which men are driven are symbolized in all their variety. Compelling.