Disillusioned crime reporter Sean "Curly" Woods, turned public relations flack for Mascot, the lowest of B-movie studios, is sent to keep hot-headed cowboy star Ken Maynard out of trouble and out of the headlines as he films the 12-chapter movie serial, Mystery Mountain.
Soon the pair become convinced that the production is being sabotaged and attempt to uncover who's behind it and why. Curly and Maynard's investigation brings them into contact with gangster Charles "Lucky" Luciano, the ill-fated Thelma Todd, fanatic Nazi supporters, rabid Klansmen, a shadowy figure known only as the Viper, and a sadistic physician with a taste for torture. It also leads to a succession of attempts on their lives, beginning with the crosshairs of a professional assassin's rifle, followed by a murderous barroom brawl, and an attack by a single-winged experimental flying machine of German design.
As the scale of the plot behind the sabotage of Mystery Mountain becomes clear, the pair realize it represents nothing less than a threat to the existence of the United States. To thwart it, Curly and Maynard will need all the help they can get, including Maynard's friend, former cowhand and fellow star Hoot Gibson; an impressive but pugnacious stuntwoman; a shady ex-silent-film Valentino impersonator, and, with Thelma Todd as go-between, an unholy alliance of Lucky Luciano and the mob with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, who join forces against a common enemy.
Horsemanship, gun fights, aerial battles, undercover reconnaissance, even a modern cavalry charge lie ahead. Can the outmoded Code of the West stand up against modern blitzkrieg warfare and the sinister dream of a Master Race? You will find all the spectacular, non-stop action of old-fashioned B-movies, pulp magazines and comic books in Mystery at Movie Ranch, side-by-side with looks at serious issues like corruption, racism, sexism, loyalty, ethics, and even the economics of low-budget filmmaking at the height of the Great Depression. You won't be able to put it down until the final game is played and the identity of the master manipulator is revealed.
Cover and interior illustrations by author, animator and political cartoonist, D. Purcell.