Crime photographer Nellie Burns and Basque Sheriff Charlie Asteguigoiri travel from central to northern Idaho to investigate bootlegging—and the town officials who might be involved.
While there, a suspicious mine explosion pulls them into a second investigation, so they send a wire to retired miner Rosy Kipling, asking him to join them. He brings Nell’s black Lab, Moonshine, and the team is then complete.
While Charlie roams the backcountry in search of illegal stills, Nell questions survivors of the explosion. Rosy descends into the principal mine to listen and pry. The two investigations lead all three to discover secrets and lies—from “soda drink” parlors, local brothels, and worker hints whispered deep in the mine shafts—that have deadly consequences. All four of them long for their high desert home but they cannot return until they expose the criminals and lay bare the truth before their luck runs out.