Hopalong Cassidy has received an urgent message from the dead. Answering an urgent appeal for help from fellow cowpuncher Pete Melford, he rides in only to discover that his old friends has been murdered and the ranch Pete left to his niece, Cindy Blair, had vanished without a trace. Hopalong may have arrived too late to save Pete, but his sense of loyalty and honor demands that he find that cold-blooded killers and return to Cindy what is rightfully hers. Colonel Justin Tradwar, criminal kingpin of the town of Kachina, is the owner of the sprawling Box T ranch, and he has built his empire with a shrewd and ruthless determination. In search of Pete's killers and Cindy's ranch, Hopalong signs on at the Box T, promising to help get Tradway's wild cattle out of the rattler-infested brush. But in the land of mesquite and black chaparral, Cassidy confronts a mystery as hellish as it is hauntinga bloody trail that leads to the strange and forbidding Babylon plateau, to $60,000 in stolen gold, and to a showdown with an outlaw who has already cheated death once, and is determined to do it again.