U. S. Deputy Page Murdock is ordered by Federal Judge Harlan A. Blackthorne to Cape Hell, Mexico, to verify a report that former Confederate Captain Oscar Childress is raising an army to take over Mexico City--and then intends to turn north to rekindle the Civil War.
Childress, it seems, has the weapons, wealth, and moral compass to do it. Unable to talk himself out of the mission, Murdock heads south on a steam train named El Espanto--The Ghost.
With only Hector Cansado, an engineer who can't be trusted and Joseph, a Native American fireman with a few secrets of his own, Murdock hurtles through the murderous desert of a foreign land toward a man bent on wholesale massacre . . . unless Murdock can stop him.