The temperature in Midbury, Montana, is hovering at 40 below zero, wolves are howling, and the town is smouldering with a strip-mining debate that quickly exceeds the bounds of polite discussion. The ranchers are not about to see their land destroyed, and as the miners' trailers roll into town the tension rises. Sheriff Chick Charleston has the task of calming the hotheads on both sides and making sure the law is carried out. His earnest sidekick, Jason Beard, is back with him, but the department is short-handed and Jase is instructed to find another deputy. It says something about Charleston's problems that the likeliest candidate is bantam Ike Doolittle, up before Judge Bolster on a charge you wouldn't believe if we told you. Ritual cattle killings and environmental strip-mining hearings pale in significance when a murder takes place at the Chicken Shack, the miners' hangout, launching Sheriff Charleston and Jase on a new mystery chase that will keep readers guessing.