Hoppy and Red in Clarksville to visit Hoppy's friend Titus Clark the sole town resident find him shot to death and discover papers that suggest a connection with railroad's plan for the land to which the attorney niece is heir.
A sheriff summons Hoppy to Stone Valley where a cattlemen's association which has padded interest and fees is about to foreclose on ranchers who can not pay because bandits rob supply shipments before they reach the ranchers.
Frank Walton hopes to break the bank in drought stricken Little Rock Basin before the drought breaks to acquire its assets and interferes with Hoppy's moving the cattle to Twin Rivers and getting funds to stop a run on the bank.
Hoppy pretends to be John Smith in a town in which Red has been made sheriff to investigate the uncannily efficient robbery of gold shipped from the area smelter while all must endure comedy records played in the Mayor's barber shop.
Clemons traveling to see his son buys a wagon said by the locals to bring harm to its owners in which bank robbers have hidden their take while it was in the livery but, when they trail, the robbers find the stash missing from the wagon.
Hoppy is asked by immigration to investigate Chinese illegal aliens crossed from Mexico and left in the desert to die and finds a message in the sand beside a deceased implicating a Chinese speaking white man with a limp.
The Army sends Hoppy to Arizona Territory to investigate raids on a telegraphic construction project and, after the project leader is killed, uncovers a conspiracy led by the holder of the area trading post enterprise to stop the telegraph.
Jim Adams convicted convincingly of Ben Samuels' murder has escaped from prison and, while Hoppy protects Adams from vigilantism, Hoppy is troubled by an Adams' trial physical description and huge doctor fees paid by Samuels' brother.
Hoppy's mission from a law & order committee to prevent a town boss from blocking a territorial charter vote is imperiled when Hoppy's recently arrived lawyer nephew agrees to defend a boss' henchman and a victim changes his story.
An exhausted boy arrives at the Bar 20 with a tale of his father's disappearance and, although Hoppy presumes the father is dead, goes to the boy's home where evidence of the father's presence unnerves a stepmother and a housekeeper.