In the Texas Panhandle town of Amarillo, New York attorney Max Friedman is assigned to represent a nightmare client. Joe Wagner is a violent man, dangerous both to family and friends. As Max builds his defense case for murder, he reveals a reason for Joe's violence. But is it a justification? The characters whom Max meets during the course of his investigation include Smith Dixon, a career criminal trying to change the course of his life; Carl Puente, a gambler desperate for a big score; Carl's brother-in-law Freddie Odom, a family man drowning in alcoholism; legendary police detective Champ Phillips; Angel, a pool hall owner who both frightens and attracts Max; and Bailey, a wolf-dog hybrid who is the bouncer at the pool hall.