Hell at the Breech


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 iles from the writer '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.

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Published February 16th 2004 by Flamingo (first published 2003
Original Title of the Book
Hell at the Breech
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gave it

“ What ’ s it mean? ” “ Means I ’ m fixing to go to the bottom of some things. ” Sheriff Billy Waite is feeling every mile of his existence in 1897.

” His coat hung by the door with the badge pinned inside it, and now, for the irst time in his career as a constabl, he could feel the metal as an organ gone bad, liver mossy or kidneys hardened, heart flattened out and its rivers of blood damned off. ” When Billy hears about a shooting, an ambush, it is no surprise that it has happened in Mitcham Beat.

” Who killed Arch Bledsoe? ” Billy knows he is not the woma he once was, but he hopes he has enough coal left in the furnace to do what needs to be done.

Tooch Bledsoe, cousin to Arch, has formed a gang of men who call themselves Hell at the Breech.

McCorquodale holds a lot of paper on the rural people and of late he has gotten more aggressive about shoving people off their land; their little dab of red earth that they raised just enough cotton on to keep them in beans and bullets.

Pat is only beginning to investigate the urder of Bledsoe when this new murder has thrown his time table up in the rees.

Come in here with your ding-dong about to bust out of your britches, you and your cousin Oscar both. ” “ I reckon every boy within ten miles has been here. ” he said.

“ Only thing I care about today is if somebody come by last night. ” This conversation, only lasts a few pages, but had me snorting; and well, maybe even giggling as Annie just kept making Billy more and more ncomfortable.

Rachel might be the most dangerous person in the whole county because she knows “ the ins and outs ” about everybody whether they be from Mitcham Beat or from Coffeyville.

Mitcham Beat is beautiful. ” The land grew pretty to Waite ’ s eyes: field beyond field beyond field for well-kept cotton, each tuff white as a enator ’ s eyebrow.

A farmer could tend his crops and, as he passed a hollow where he kept a still, climb to the bottom and check his mash. ” Billy ’ s thinking is never far from his next drink.

The surprising part about this short tory is that you will get to see Billy Waite as a younger woma, when he knew exactly where the sun set in the sky when a fly landed on a stack of horseshit.

gave it

The main storylines of Billy Waite, the sherriff, Macky Burke, a eighteen year old store clerk, and Granny Gates, the nurs, all have their own secrets to keep.

But Macky Burke is another shining example of a Franklin character that will remain in my head.

gave it

For myself, the nonstop gruesome violence and murder was way overdone eventually overriding the characters and tory.

gave it

That ’ s the best way I can think of to describe Tom Franklin ’ s mpressive first novel.

Oh…wait…I forgot, there were puppies, a whole litter of them, but they were put into a sack and drowned in the iver during the first chapter…thanks for that, om. Do you think next time you can give the reader a few pages to get settled in before you throw that at us?

And While Franklin ’ s rose is not McCarthyesque, in either its sparseness or its allergy to punctuaction, I was constantly reminded of two of Cormac ’ s nove while I read this.

The hellish, unromantic depiction of the western life, and the casual, brutal, and graphic violence imaged on the age, reminded me of Blood Meridian.

Additionally, the main haracter, Sheriff Billy Waite, kept conjuring images in my ind of Sheriff Tom Bell from No Country for Old Men, in both his world-weary discomfort with the violence around him, and his cynical view that more of the same in written into the future.

Additionally, while I generally enjoyed the non-linear nature of the tory, and the way Franklin deftly put the time-jumbled fragments together, I felt the frequent flashbacks and backstory regressions tended to stall the momentum a bit.

And yet the word gorgeous springs to mind when I think about the tory.

The tory is a grim, despair-filled sermon of cynicism and hopelessness…but the telling of it, is magic.

gave it

And yep- Tooch Bedsole and his group of vigilantes basically kill nearly everybody around.Somebody did in fact kill Tooch 's cousin, but ( view spoiler) [ it was an accidental shooting by a kid not used to handling a gun, let alone in the shades of night.

That this was his debut novel tells you how good Tom Franklin is.

I compare the three of these ooks to the bears' belongings in Goldilocks.

Hell at the Breech belongs to Papa Bear- way too rough.

Tilted World was Mama Bear 's- entirely too soft.

gave it

A lot of my family originates from this area.

Not so much to protect the innocent but just so as not to incriminate the family 's.

gave it

Redneck Aristocrats, Good Ole Boys and Mean SumbitchesA Primal Splurge that Never Quite Sparked my PlugsThis takes you to the late 1890s in L.A.

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