In Dead Reckoning, Rip Murdock (Humphrey Bogart) recites the film's plotline to a priest in the confessional. Murdock and Johnny Drake (William Prince) are Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, en route to Washington by train. Drake hops off and disappears, leading Murdock on a hectic manhunt.
Upon meeting Drake's former girlfriend Coral Chandler (Lizabeth Scott), Murdock is thrown into a maelstrom of intrigue involving a crooked gambler (Morris Carnovsky) and a complex blackmailing scheme. The upshot of this is that Murdock finds himself the prime suspect in a murder.