At twenty, Cade Hunter had been on his own for six years. He’d worked with both cattle and horses, becoming quite accomplished with both.

Now, with old Billy, his horse since childhood, dead from stepping in a prairie dog hole and having to be put down, Cade was afoot. He hooks up with a cattle drive he comes across and meets Luke Tucker, an older drover, and they become friends.

After the drive, they go off together, Luke telling him a story about the Civil War. He was part of a patrol guarding nine mule loads of gold dust when they were attacked by Confederate forces. The patrol was wiped out, with Luke the only survivor, getting away with one mule load. He hid it and, only now, twelve years later, he wants to retrieve it.

Unfortunately, Luke is recognized by an old army comrade, Lem Snider, who thought him dead all these years, and follows along until they find the dust. Luke is murdered, Cade left for dead, and only the help of an old mountain man and his Blackfoot wife  save the young man’s life.

After he recovers, Cade decides to go after Snider. The gold he doesn’t care about, only avenging the murder of his friend. Along the way, he helps out people he runs across, making new friends, and starting to build a future, until the final encounter.

Charles West gets better with each novel. Early in his career, he wrote in trilogies, except for one four book sequence. Lately, though, he’s been doing standalones.

Well worth checking out for western fans. The style is smooth and easy reading, just fine for a few hours enjoyment.