Harry Arno, an over-the-hill Miami bookmaker, quietly lives the good life with his girlfriend, Joyce Patton. Harry skimmed for years from his corpulent mob boss, Jimmy "Cap" Capotorto, and managed to salt away nearly a cool million in a Swiss bank account. Harry wants to retire and move to Rapallo, Italy, dreaming of an idyllic existence with Joyce in a villa by the sea. In Rapallo, he once briefly talked to the poet, Ezra Pound, when Harry was in the army and Pound was incarcerated.
Now that the Justice Department is after Jimmy Cap, it sets up Harry to give information about Cap's activities by putting out the word about his skimming activities. The assumption is that Jimmy Cap will try to have Harry killed, which will force Harry to ask for witness protection and turn evidence. Jimmy Cap sends a message to Harry in the form of low-life hit man Earl Crowe, but Harry is faster with a gun.
Harry skips his bond and eludes the baby-sitting U. S. Marshal and former Marine Raylan Givens for the second time, the first ending when Harry gave Raylan the slip in an Atlanta airport. Harry makes a nostalgic dash for Rapallo.
Holed up in a picturesque Italian resort, Harry is soon pursued by his ex-stripper girlfriend Joyce. Raylan follows because he seeks to redeem his previous failure to bring Harry in—for him this is now a matter of honor. In addition, "the Zip," another mob affiliate, wants to take over Harry's action, so he tells Cap that he'll take out Harry in Italy. If Harry ends up dead, the Zip gets to take over the bookie operation, which is going to mean a lot more money. The Zip, whoin Miami endlessly humiliates "Stronzo" Nicky Testa, demonstrates his penchant for violence with a cold-blooded murder.
Harry now has so many people following him that the small village of Rapallo becomes inundated with U. S. mobsters and federal agents. To his aid comes Robert Gee, a former French foreign legionnaire, who helps him defend the villa against all the trigger-happy mobsters. During these events, the 66-year-old Harry starts drinking again, which causes the situation to deteriorate even faster. Harry is in real danger of losing his life, but Raylan makes sure that doesn't happen.