Originally published 21st January 1982.
‘Assignment: Dave Hallett, U.S. Marshal: Recover bullion and currency stolen from the Salida – La Junta Stage by killers, Jack and Ed Wallis. Jack Wallis hung five years ago. Ed Wallis due release Austin prison.’ Ed Wallis had got away with a prison sentence because of his tender age, but he’d had to grow up some in prison. Hallett, meeting him on release, did not rate him a killer even if others were still solidly convinced of his guilt.
Hallett moseys on to Rocky Ford, where he manages to get on the wrong side of Ed’s sister, the beautiful Stella Wallis. Stella is struggling to keep the Anvil horse–ranch going and is grateful for the friendship shown to her by handsome rancher Brett Turner.
Hallett disapproves of Stella’s feelings for Turner for more reasons than one. But it never does for a U.S. Marshal to let his feelings get in the way of doing the job. Hallett, with the aid of the enigmatic Cole Duggan, goes out to deliberately provoke the local populace in the search for truth, getting angry reaction from Turner and his trigger–happy crew, banker Henry Roach, storekeeper Caleb Hanley and Marshal Hoadby.
Just what is it that they are all trying to hide?