Hell at the Breech
By Tom Franklin
(William Morrow & Company, Paperback, 9780060566760, 368pp.)
Publication Date: December 2003
List Price: $15.99*
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In 1897, an aspiring politician is mysteriously murdered in the rural area of Alabama known as Mitcham Beat. His outraged friends -- mostly poor cotton farmers -- form a secret society, Hell-at-the-Breech, to punish the townspeople they believe responsible. The hooded members wage a bloody year-long campaign of terror that culminates in a massacre where the innocent suffer alongside the guilty. Caught in the maelstrom of the Mitcham war are four people: the aging sheriff sympathetic to both sides; the widowed midwife who delivered nearly every member of Hell-at-the-Breech; a ruthless detective who wages his own war against the gang; and a young store clerk who harbors a terrible secret.
Based on incidents that occurred a few miles from the author's childhood home, Hell at the Breech chronicles the events of dark days that led the people involved to discover their capacity for good, evil, or for both.