Hell at the Breech by Tom Franklin
A Novel

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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.


About Tom Franklin

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Tom Franklin is the author of Hell at the Breech and Poachers. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their three children. He teaches at the University of Mississippi.
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 374 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Horror. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Hell at the Breech

Kirkus Reviews

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The few middle-class families that own the cotton farms in Mitcham Beat treat their tenant farmers as ruthlessly as the worst slaveholders in the not-so-remote Old South ever did, and the badly squeezed farmers haven’t a hope of escape from their lives.

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The Guardian

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Riding home, the carnage behind him, a survivor of the Mitcham Beat war expresses faint hope that future generations will grow up, prosper and "survive the world the world was becoming".

Mar 13 2004 | Read Full Review of Hell at the Breech: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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This immensely accomplished novel by the author of the Edgar Award–winning short story collection Poachers is based on a real-life feud in the 1890s that pitted the underclass—poor, mostly white sharecroppers—of Clarke County, Ala., against the land-owning gentry who could and did control their ...

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Book Reporter

In his highly praised short story collection, POACHERS, Alabama native Tom Franklin mined a neglected topic --- the modern South --- for narrative gold.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Hell at the Breech: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

In the 1890s, Mitcham Beat, Ala., was a land of mash moonshine, Spanish moss, dawgs, and men named Mack and Tooch.

May 30 2003 | Read Full Review of Hell at the Breech: A Novel

Suite 101

With his gripping prose and knack for detail, Franklin recreates a gory fight between a gang of crooked Alabama outlaws and the town they feign to avenge.

May 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Hell at the Breech: A Novel


The makeup of Mitcham Beat is simple: everyone is poor, but there is a difference between the hardworking poor who attempt to maintain families, and the mean-spirited, hard-drinking poor, which resent just about everything, especially the townsfolk, who set the cotton prices and maintain a dracon...

Jul 08 2003 | Read Full Review of Hell at the Breech: A Novel

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