Laudanum. Irish whiskey. The tried and true escape routes of bordello madam Hennessey Reed. On this occasion she suspects even their combined magic will not soothe her distress. The girl lying violated on the undertaker's table will remain dead, wounds horrifying and inexplicable, reminiscent of Indian sacrifice.
Hennessey treasures the uneasy peace she has found in the remote town of Melancholy in 1880s Idaho Territory. However the discovery of three more young victims—all girls of similar age to her daughter Evie—compromises this hard-won equilibrium when she recognizes one of the girls.
Usually content to tend her own business and leave others to mind theirs, Hennessey decides U.S. Marshal Rafael Cooper requires her help to search for the killer but acknowledges, if consulted, he may not necessarily agree.
Although helped by an eclectic group dedicated to the barstools in her saloon, she is hindered by demons stifled by addiction and myopic hatred of Jedidiah Cannon: a man from her past she is convinced is involved in the present-day murders.
So with her Bowie strapped to her calf and wolfhound Raven at her side Hennessey sets out to investigate—a one-woman stampede.