A post-bellum Southern Western that moves from Missouri to Texas, this features Confederate rebels on a wild gold chase after a hidden cache of Emperor Maximilian's. Throw in Mexicans and Comanches. The story is written with intensity and a subjectivity which is rare in the genre, creating credible people in a perhaps familiar plot (many crucial devices are borrowed from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) which deals with the cumulative madness of greed. The strength of the novel is in the singular character of a nearly hundred year old mountain man who trots about as if he were sixty. He is Jake Starke, intimate of Kit Carson and other mountain men who cleaned the beaver out of the Rockies. As a monumental primitive, he represents a way of life already vanished in 1865 and he is rendered without an ounce of hokum from Mrs. Barry. This is realistic regional melodrama and its style has a flinty masculinity.