After leaving Jackson, Texas, Jess and Bodine head to Stratton, Texas, where Jess has agreed to take some time off and fish in the lake he and Henry Stratton built. Along the way, they stop off at the town of Berkshire.
They quickly learn that the town’s officials, including the marshal, have turned the town into a haven for outlaws, charging them a daily fee to stay there without being bothered. At first, it seems to be harmless, as none of the outlaws bothers or harms the local townsfolk and the businesses in town charges the outlaws double for whatever they buy or consume.
That quickly changes when a cold-blooded killer by the name of Jake Rickman rides into town and stays at the hotel. Bodine is awaiting a wire back from United States Marshal Frank Reedy, asking if they should interfere with the town’s operation. The answer from Frank Reedy is what Bodine expected: Pin their federal badges on and clean up the town.
Jess kills a hired gun working for a cattle baron who has a huge ranch outside of Berkshire. The rancher tries to bribe Jess and Bodine with money, but when that doesn’t work, he tries to run them off with hired killers. Jess finds himself ducking bullets and facing the best gunslingers the cattle baron can buy…and he has no shortage of money.
Just when they think things can’t get any worse, Frank Reedy is wounded by two outlaws passing through Stratton, Texas. Jess and Bodine want to leave Berkshire and hunt down the two attackers, but they still have to deal with the cattle baron until their replacements arrive.
Jess is on the hunt for his next prey, Max Thunder, which leads him to an almost deserted town called Appleton. He puts Thunder down and heads to the town of Pinkney, directly into another fight with the rest of the Thunder family. Bullets fly and two more men in the Thunder family die.
While in Pinkney, he has an encounter with a woman by the name of Martha Heller. She doesn’t think much of what he does for a living. Three men attempted to rob the stagecoach she was riding in, but she shot two of them, wounding one of them seriously.
Jess joins the posse on the hunt for the three men. They bring in three dead bodies but the stagecoach driver refuses to take Martha on the last leg of her journey to the town of Harrison, Texas, where she is supposed to take over as the teacher.
Against Jess’s warnings, she travels alone to Harrison, but is almost raped and killed by one of the men Jess is hunting. He saves her life and escorts her to Harrison, where the schoolhouse has burned down. Jess begins to have feelings for Martha, but she is not happy with his life of bounty hunting. He leaves her in Harrison, but he feels as if he is leaving a part of himself there. He continues on the hunt for more bad men, but the memory of Martha Heller will haunt him for many years to come.
When he continues on his hunt for more bad men, Shadow suddenly shows up. Then, he receives a special assignment from United States Marshal Frank Reedy. Two outlaws have hanged a Texas Ranger in Verde, Texas, and Reedy wants Jess to track them down. Before he begins his hunt for the two outlaws, his good friend John Bodine joins him and the hunt for the two murderers begins.
The only problem is, the closer they get to the killers, the more dead bodies they find.