Originally published in 1960, this is one of Coburn's later novels. It's the story of Johnny Lee and Ed Mullins, the only survivors from a violent feud between two
families. Lawman Joe Parbury, who knew both families, turns in his badge, takes the boys to raise, and moves to Arizona to start a ranch. As Johnny and Ed grow up, the hatred between them (which Coburn implies is inherited) grows stronger despite Parbury's efforts to raise them as brothers. The young men conceal that hatred from the outside world, though, and appear tobe the best of friends. Until both of them fall for the same girl. Texas
The plot twists and turns with the usual Coburn revelations from the characters' past. The theme that runs through most of Coburn's work is that dark secrets from the past never stay hidden forever but inevitably work their way to the surface and cause trouble for characters in the present. No other writer I've read is so obsessed with this idea, with the possible exception of Ross Macdonald. Sometimes Coburn's plots get so convoluted that they border on the ridiculous; in other books, such as this one, everything comes together and works very well, producing an ending that's quite satisfying, if a little maudlin.
Another appealing thing about this book is that it's a modern Western (relatively speaking) set in the 1920s or '30s, and much of it has to do with the world of professional rodeo, with which Coburn was obviously very familiar. He doesn't dwell on this background, but there's enough of it to give the book an added dimension from the usual Western novel. This is a good solid yarn, and very entertaining.