Jess has finally decided to take a long-needed break from the bounty hunting business. After leaving Kilgore, Kansas, and splitting off from the aging bounty hunter, John Booth, he goes to his house on the lake in Stratton, Texas. He plans to stay, relax, fish and visit with friends.
His break is quickly cut short when Frank Reedy gets shot and is in grave condition. After only one day of relaxation, he finds himself hunting for the six men responsible for Reedy being shot. He takes John Bodine and Ace Yardley on the hunt with him.
The six outlaws split up in pairs, each going in different directions, making Jess’s job of hunting them down difficult. But almost killing his good friend, Frank Reedy, was a mistake of proportions that the six killers would never realize…until Jess finds them and dispenses his own personal style of justice.
On the way back from Kansas City, Kansas, to Texas, Jess is on the hunt for Buck Lochmann. After catching him, he takes the body to Richman, Kansas, where he meets an old friend, John Booth. He’s also a bounty hunter, but he’s almost too old for the business. Jess gives Booth a hand, but then they separate again.
Jess hunts another man, and in the process, helps a woman and her young son, Doug. After transporting them to the town of Kensington, he ends up meeting Booth there again. Booth is planning on going after the vicious Anthony Clark gang, but Jess knows that Booth is not up to the task and might get himself killed while trying.
Jess and Booth go on the hunt together. The hunt turns deadly and difficult, but Jess is never one to let that get in his way.
Jess is heading to the town of Fleming on the hunt for Mark Fitzgerald. Before he makes it to Fleming, three men attempt to rob him.
Things don’t go well for the robbers. When Jess continues on toward Fleming, he finds a young man by the name of Hud, who had been ambushed by the same three robbers. Hud is wounded and unconscious. Jess senses something off about the man but isn’t sure what it is.
After delivering Hud to the doctor in Fleming, Jess discovers that someone is trying to have him killed and paying money to the men who try. He continues on his mission of killing the worst outlaws, but the fact that men are being paid to kill him makes his job more dangerous.
He leaves Fleming while Hud is still healing at the doctor’s office, but he has a strong feeling that it’s not the last time he’ll see the young man. He makes a decision to attempt to find the person who has been putting up the money to have him killed, but this proves to be an elusive and very dangerous journey.
After spending a week resting in his house on the lake in Stratton, Texas, and delivering Pearly Bullock there to be hung by the United States Senator Mark Lusk, Jess is on the hunt for his next prey, Lee Mason.
He encounters three men at a river and then runs into a lawless and inexperienced posse who are chasing after the men who robbed the bank in Glasser, Texas. He convinces the posse to let him go after the three robbers, who refuse to give up. He ends up killing all three men and returns their bodies to Glasser.
While there, he runs into a young woman by the name of Nellie Lawson. He is captivated by her and spends the night with her. After hearing her story, he decides to help her catch the men who killed her parents and raped and tortured her for weeks.
They began their hunt for the four men, who are all living under assumed names, but Jess is not one to give up easily.
Before Jess leaves Wildcat in Summerlin, Texas, he receives a wire from United States Marshal Frank Reedy. He is assigned to hunt down the vicious outlaw, Pearly Bullock, and deliver him to Stratton, Texas…alive. The fact that Shadow stays with him when he leaves Summerlin is a clue as to how hard the assignment is going to be.
As unhappy as he is with the idea of bringing Bullock in alive, things become worse when every bounty hunter finds out the reward is twenty-five thousand dollars. Every gunslinger and bounty hunter worth his salt begins hunting for Bullock, getting in Jess’s way at every turn.
His job of getting Pearly back to Stratton alive becomes a difficult task, but he finds help in another gunslinger turned bounty hunter. They team up, but as things get worse, Jess begins to wonder if he should just shoot Pearly himself and be done with it.
As they make their way to Stratton, they run into one problem after another, leaving a trail of dead bodies behind them. Jess begins to worry more about whether or not he’ll get to Stratton alive, much less get Pearly there.