At a remote inn, Conrad McClure, becomes involved with an evil family and, in particular, the she-devil of a daughter who ensnares men in her murderous web of sensuality.
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Bloody Kansas 1872. Conroy McClure searches for his missing brother. However, at a remote inn, he becomes involved with an evil family, and in particular the she-devil of a daughter who snares men in a murderous web of sensuality. McClure, like so many others, is trapped. The local vigilantes storm the inn, intent on lynching the entire family. But the killers have fled, taking McClure with them. The evidence left buried in the adjacent orchard is totally damning: twelve bodies, naked and brutally mutilated, including a little girl who was clearly buried while still alive. But where have the murderers gone, and what is the fate of Conroy McClure? The truth is so incredible that it becomes lost, disbelieved, in myth, along with record of the final deathful duel that McClure fights to salvage his sanity and his life.
As he drew closer, he saw the sign above the doorway: GROCERIES.
He reined in his piebald, and the cabin’s door opened, allowing lantern light to silhouette the figure that appeared. This seemed more like a great bear than a human being. A great bear wearing tattered overalls.
Conroy swallowed his apprehension and said, ‘Howdy. I hear you provide good food and a bed here.’
‘Ja,’ Old John Bender muttered gruffly, his bearded face as expressionless as a red hatchet. ‘Mein Sohn Jason … he take your horse.’
Conroy nodded and swung from his saddle. ‘Sure is the devil’s weather we’re getting,’ he said, but the old man did not answer, seeming not to hear.
A younger man stepped out from the cabin. He was well built and tall; he towered over Conroy. His eyes were so close-set they seemed to constrict the bridge of his nose. As he took the reins from Conroy, he emitted a laugh, revealing crooked teeth. Conroy wondered what he found so funny, unless it was the prospect of another easy victim. The Bender son smoothed the wet flank of the piebald with his hand, as if appraising it. He made an appreciative sound with his lips. It was then that he swung back, perhaps getting his first clear look at Conroy’s face – and he made a sudden, weird click in his throat. The blood had drained from his face. He turned away sharply, leading the horse off.
Uneasily, Conroy followed the great bulk of the old man through the cabin doorway, and the smell of staleness assailed him. A black-garbed woman, built like a pickle barrel, greeted him with a nod but didn’t speak or smile. She helped him off with his poncho. She then shook the rain out of this and hung it on the hook behind the door.
It was at this moment that Conroy saw Katie Bender for the first time.
She had stepped from behind the calico curtain that partitioned the room, wiping her hands on her apron, her face illuminated by the candle she was holding. There was a touch of rouge on her cheeks. She suddenly smiled. Conroy was astonished by her beauty. Everything else about this place was as ugly as abomination, yet the appearance of this auburn-haired woman was somehow breathtaking.