Jack Reacher is riding in the back of bus half full of senior citizens on a cheap winter tour going through South Dakota on their way to see Mt. Rushmore. A storm comes in, the bus slides off the road, and they find themselves in Bolton, South Dakota. Reacher helps the victims and helps the local law enforcement deal with the situation.
The police tell Reacher about their local prison, one of the largest in the US, and their obligation to always respond first when it has a need, explaining why they were delayed so long to help those on the bus.
He also learns about a band of outlaw bikers that has settled outside the town and are running a drug making operation. The local leader has been arrested and is being held waiting for trial in the prison and the police are also struggling to protect Janet Salter, a witness to the drug dealings.
Plato is an evil drug lord who lives in Mexico and is the one really in control of the Bolton area drug operation and in directing someone to kill Janet Salter. When Reacher learns of the drug lord he says: “Plato is a weird name for a Mexican, don’t you think? Sounds more like a Brazilian name to me.” When we finally meet Plato, we find out how really weird he is.
The whole story starts with what is going on in the prison telling us: “Five minutes to three in the afternoon. Exactly sixty-one hours before it happened. The lawyer drove in and parked in the empty lot. There was an inch of new snow on the ground, so he spent a minute fumbling in the foot well until his overshoes were secure. Then he got out and turned his collar up and walked to the visitor’s entrance.”
Reacher helps the police and establishes his own contact with Major Susan Turner, the current leader of Reacher's old command, the elite 110th Special Investigations Unit to try to learn the history of the drug facilities location which is in an underground location built during World War 11.
61 hours finally pass, and Reacher made the difference of course. Everything must be ok with Reacher because you find him one page after the end of this story in the “thrilling preview of Night School”. **