Jack Reacher gets off a Greyhound bus in the town of Margrave, Georgia, because he remembers his brother mentioning that a blues musician named Blind Blake died there. Much to his surprise, shortly after his arrival, he is arrested in a local diner for murder. He then meets a local detective called Finlay, and tries to prove his innocence.
After finding what seems to be a phone number in the dead man's shoe, Finlay calls and tricks a man into telling him his name, Mr. Hubble. They bring Hubble (as he likes to be called) into the police station for questioning and he soon cracks and confesses to the murder, but Reacher does not believe the confession. Both Reacher and Hubble are sent to the state prison, where Reacher successfully fends off an attempt on his life, which he later discovers was actually intended for Hubble.
After two days in jail, Roscoe, a female police officer for whom Reacher has developed an attraction, proves he is innocent and that his claim to have been nowhere near the scene of the murder is true. Roscoe collects Reacher and they return to Margrave, where Reacher later discovers that the murder victim is his own brother. Hubble disappears, apparently assassinated, and his desperate, uninformed wife wants Reacher to find him.
Chief Morrison and his wife are later found brutally murdered in their home. In the finale Reacher discovers that Margrave is home to a multibillion-dollar counterfeiting operation, which he and his newly formed acquaintances set out to destroy.