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In September 1868, the murder of a prominent citizen shattered the tranquility and enraged the citizens of Delaware Water Gap, a village nestled in the Pocono Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania. MCHA member John Abel takes the history of this event and turns it into his debut novel of historical fiction.
After robbing a hotel owned by Thomas Brodhead, drifters William Brooks and Charles Orme attempt to flee the area but are apprehended by Thomas and his brother, Theodore. The encounter leavesTheodore dead and Thomas badly mauled. Brooks and Orme are taken into custody within hours.
A five-day trial results in a first-degree murder conviction and the judge sentences both young men to hang. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denies their appeal. Desperate, they hatch an escape plan, which they bungled, and Orme finds himself back in jail the next day. Brooks, however, avoids capture.
The hanging of Charles Orme takes place in August 1869, but it is shamefully botched and Orme suffers badly. After his burial, a minister opens an envelope which Orme entrusted to him.
Twenty-five years pass and memories of the first murder and execution begin to fade. Brooks resurfaces and a young sheriff has to decide what is best for the law and the locals.