L'Amour's first published novel was long thought to be "Hondo" in 1953. But he also wrote, under the pseudonym Tex Burns, four Hopalong Cassidy novels after the creator of the character, Clarence E. Xulford, retired. This is the fourth of the group and is published here for the first time under L'Amour's name. Bill ("Hopalong") Cassidy is a drifter, a cowboy, and a gunman who always comes in on the side of the underdog--and the law, too, though if the law is wrong, he'll do what's right. He's tough, brave, and polite to the ladies; he never looks for a fight but has finished plenty. Here he comes to New Mexico to help an old friend, Pete Melford, but by the time Hoppy arrives, Melford is dead, and all traces of his ranch have vanished. Also looking for the ranch are Melford's niece, Cindy Blair, and her friend, Rig Taylor. Standing in their way is Colonel Treadway, owner of the huge Box T spread and the most powerful individual in the region. Other plot lines in this very busy novel involve Treadway's concealed outlaw past, another outlaw's attempt to go straight, and a mysterious cult of monks who reside in the nearby mountains. Though there's plenty of the Saturday matinee cliffhanger formula here, it also contains more than enough signature L'Amour to entertain the author's legion of fans. This isn't just a rediscovered curiosity; it's a pretty good western in its own right.