A bunch of American mercenaries are hired by various Mexican governors to hunt down and kill the Apache renegades who have been wreaking havoc across their states. The men must return with Apache scalps to collect their bounty. But in short time these misfits are killing and scalping Apache and Mexican citizen alike. Soon the hunters also become the hunted, by both the Apache and the Mexican cavalry.
The novel is set in an environment both beautiful and unrelentingly savage. This feels like the real Wild West, where death and suffering are a part of most days. Some of the brutality had me draw sudden breath, cringe and close my eyes so shocking was it. Yet still, I couldn’t put it down. In one paragraph several men hang by their feet over coals which had roasted them, their brains bubbling and steaming out of their heads. And in the very next paragraph we witness the beauty of a pale green meteor shooting across the night sky.
I wasn’t at my most receptive whilst reading the book, so I couldn’t see the theme. But I have since read Josh’s brilliant review and the associated comments at Goodreads, which has made it clearer.