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In a small town in Mexico, eighteen-year-old Linda Morgan finds her family servant, Pablo Armondares, asleep on a sidewalk outside the bar where her father is drinking. Linda insists that her alcoholic father Tip leave immediately to keep an appointment with a doctor, who later warns Tip that he has a dangerous heart condition. That night Tip, a widower, writes to crime novelist David L. Brady. Without revealing the contents of the letter, Tip then tells Linda that his heart condition compels him to bring her and Pablo, an American citizen, back to Los Angeles, where she was born eighteen years earlier. In Los Angeles, David says goodbye to his best friend, district attorney Daniel McCracken, informing him that he is headed to Mexico to find Tip, a murder suspect who disappeared fifteen years earlier after failing to show up for his trial. Knowing that his friend has been trying to find the fugitive for years, Daniel chides Dave, but the writer vows he will succeed. Dave's girl friend, Sheila Barton, sees him off at the airport and he is later greeted in Mexico by Pablo, who drives him to the Morgans' remote home. There, Linda learns that her father came to Mexico because two hoodlums, Silk Caruthers and Lucky Gato, were on trial for the murder of a small-time gambler but were acquitted because of an alibi. Tip, then a crime reporter, discovered the true identity of the murderer, but before he could publish his findings, the murderer threatened to kill him if he did not leave the country. To save his family, Tip accepted the blackmailer's offer of a paid-for residence in Mexico, where Tip hoped to write a novel with his free time, but instead became a drunk. Unknown to Tip and Dave, a hired killer named Cookie is lurking outside as they speak and fires two shots into the house, then escapes by car. Although no one is injured, the shock causes Tip to collapse. Nearby, Cookie is harshly reprimanded by his bosses, Silk and Lucky, for failing to kill Tip. When they return to the Morgan home to complete the job, they find it deserted. The next day, a recovered Tip, Dave, Linda and Pablo drive north toward the American border. Dave plans to drive the backroads in order to evade their assailants, unaware that Silk and Lucky are pursuing them along the same route. Along the way, Dave stops and calls Daniel to ask him to enlist the American consulate to help ease their passage through Nogales. The killers catch up with Dave and his friends at a motel, but Tip and Linda escape on foot. After outwitting the killers, Dave and Pablo pick up their friends along the road. In accordance with their plan to travel primarily at night, they soon pull off the road and hide the car behind some boulders. Dave distributes guns to everyone but Linda, who is affronted that he treats her like a child and proves her marksmanship by firing a weapon at a target. The sound of the gunfire draws the attention of a wealthy American woman, Eve Carter, who pulls up in her new convertible to ask if they need help. Dave, suspicious of her unexpected arrival, sends her on her way. Eve, who is in league with the killers, meets up with them farther down the road, where she belittles them for their incompetency. While Pablo, Dave and Tip prepare a meal, Linda sulks nearby and is taken hostage by Silk, Lucky and Cookie, who demand that she lure her father out alone. When Linda instead shouts a warning, they knock her unconscious. A gunfight then ensues during which Cookie is injured and Pablo is mortally wounded. Silk, Lucky and Cookie escape, but Silk later kills the wounded Cookie and leaves his body on the road. Pablo dies after receiving last rites at a church. After burying their friend, Dave and the Morgans continue to Nogales, but when Dave notices that they are being followed by Eve, he turns off the road and then surreptitiously follows her. She meets with the killers at a motel where Dave eavesdrops as she plots their murders. After temporarily disabling Silk and Lucky's car, Dave steals Eve's convertible and he and the Morgans speed to their destination. Eve and the killers try to catch up after repairing their car but are pulled over by a policeman. Eve cleverly tells him they are following her stolen car and the policeman joins their pursuit, until they find Eve's car abandoned. Using his knowledge of plot twists, Dave stays one step ahead of the killers by boarding a bus with the Morgans. When Dave and his pursuers reach the Nogales airport simultaneously, the police, having been forewarned by Dave, arrive to arrest Silk, Lucky and Eve for Pablo's murder. Dave and the Morgans arrive safely in Los Angeles and are met by Daniel's chauffeur Eddie, who immediately takes them to Daniel's home. There, Tip is stunned to find that Dave's friend is the murderer who framed and blackmailed him. Daniel explains that fifteen years earlier a petty racketeer discovered that he had bribed a juror during a trial and threatened to ruin his career. Daniel killed the racketeer, but Tip then discovered his crime. Daniel's plans to kill them go awry when Dave informs him that the police are waiting outside. Dave reveals that he became suspicious of Daniel because only he and Sheila knew his whereabouts and it was unlikely that Sheila sent the killers after him. Eddie looks out the window and confirms the presence of the police, who then arrest Daniel. Later at a bar, Dave tells Sheila that Tip has been re-hired as a crime reporter, and he suspects that Linda will someday end up marrying someone like her father. He then hints that Sheila may marry a crime novelist, but that for now, he can only feel regret over the loss of his best friend.