On Sunday afternoon, May 22, 2011, a Category Five tornado touches earth west of Joplin, Missouri, and rips twenty-two miles easterly through the town. It kills 162 people and does $2.2 billion dollars damage.
Brad Carson rides his motorcycle on the east side of Joplin when he sees the twister coming his way. He tries to reach the safety of a highway overpass. After the tornado passes, a resident finds Brad’s Harley-Davidson in his front yard. The headlight is on and the bike is in gear. Brad is nowhere around.
A week later 156 people remain unaccounted for including Brad Carson.
A month later all tornado victims are accounted for except for Brad Carson.
Chad Carson, Brad’s twin brother, files a claim for $2 million dollars in life insurance, but the company wants proof of death. Rather than risk negative publicity, the company negotiates a monthly-payment settlement with Chad. It also sends private investigator Dan Ballantine to Joplin.
Dan learns Brad’s rich and reclusive uncle, Martin Weaver, lives on eight forested acres in northeastern Oklahoma. When Dan visits the property to see if Brad is hiding there, he spots an infrared security system on the fence. Soon somebody in the trees unloads a pump shotgun loaded with nine rounds of double-aught buckshot at him.
Dan escapes, treats a minor wound, and returns to the property several hours later. He finds the house and garage empty. With the help of super-hacker Pearl the Girl, Dan gets a description of Weaver’s vehicle and learns it left Oklahoma headed toward St. Louis. Dan tracks the van with the idea he will look for Brad and ask why Weaver tried to kill him.