The novel, The Big Sandy, is set in the years following the civil war. IDA MAE SCHWEISTAHL is a bitter, head strong, naive Minnesota farm girl who is brutally attacked by a young man from a neighboring farm. Rage provokes her to kill him and bad blood between the families erupts into hostilities, forcing her to flee. Her journey on a steamboat down the Mississippi river begins her perilous misadventures and tragic love affairs. Running for her life, she takes the identity of NED MCCONNELL, and rides shotgun for the Oxbow Stage Line between Springfield, Missouri and Fort Smith, Arkansas hoping to thwart her enemies from exacting their revenge. While defending the stagecoach in a confrontation involving gun play, a passenger who is a writer, pens a dime novel about the incident. She is forced to become, The Big Sandy Kid. Her notoriety soon spins out of proportion with each publication of the exploitative dime novels and her masquerade as a man unravels. A tragic set of circumstances provides her the opportunity to resume her life as a woman. She is torn between the anonymity she treasures and her desires for romance. Unfortunately, her natural bent to the contrary prevents her from realizing both worlds. Along the way she encounters desperate individuals who unwittingly follow in her reckless charge to find true love, or deadly retribution. Filled with ruthless characters, this novel vividly details Ida Mae's resolve to preserve her secrecy as she stumbles into clandestine romance and deadly gun play. In the end she faces the choice of having to take the outlaw road or not. Before she can decide, fate comes looking for her.