This is the first book in a four-book series about a gambler, gunman, and former detective named Clayburn (no first name given in this book, though he's occasionally referred to as Clay). We don't find out many details about Clayburn's background except that he used to work as a private detective for an agency headed by a Colonel Remsburg. The colonel and his agency seem modeled on Allan Pinkerton and the Pinkerton Agency, but Albert doesn't go overboard with it.
The plot is a combination of the standard revenge/save the ranch scenarios. One of Clayburn's old friends is murdered by outlaw Ross Slater. Clayburn digs up the fact that Slater's brother is cattleman John Thompson, who is trying to take over the ranch owned by Ruby McClintock and her two no-account brothers. Clayburn throws in with Ruby and plans to make life so difficult for Thompson that Thompson will summon Slater to help him, thus giving Clayburn his chance for revenge.
Though the plot is traditional, Albert makes this book fresh and entertaining with his lean, fast-paced style and his characterization of Clayburn, who veers back and forth between hero and anti-hero. Clayburn is not the fastest gun or the best brawler, but he is determined and thinks well on his feet. He's not above using people to get what he wants, either. He emerges as more sympathetic than unsympathetic, but there are enough rough edges about him to make him at least a little non-traditional. Overall, a very enjoyable book, and I plan to read the other three novels in the series, which are THREE RODE NORTH, LAST TRAIN TO BANNOCK, and THE MAN IN BLACK.