It's the trial of the century in a 1940s North Carolina town.
Rape. Murder. Vigilante justice.
War hero and law student Wes Ross has to save his unclebut hide the truth.
Taught to shoot in the rough logging camps of the North Carolina swamps, Wes Ross remembers his lessons well. Dodging hostile gunfire with dozens of other young Marines, he storms a remote Pacific island as one of Carlson's Raiders. It was the first commando-style attack of World War II. He blasts several Japanese snipers from their palm tree hideouts with buckshot before an enemy bullet sends him home.
The Carolina home front includes a new girlfriend and a new occupation, and learning to be a rural lawyer in his uncle's law office, including courtroom intrigue and what goes on behind the scenes. Wes, like his uncles, is a good man, the kind who takes up for the poor and downtrodden, looking out for the black farmers and others who are easy prey for bullies.
Frog Cutshaw is the storekeeper in the Caney Fork backwoods, a swaggering ex-moonshiner who is deadly with his ever-present .45 auto pistol. Frog's daylight rape of a married woman and the brutal killing of her husband bring on Bible Belt vigilante justice, an eye for an eye, life for a life.
Wes is caught in the middle as a participant in the killing of Frog Cutshaw. Soon, one uncle is being tried for a murder he planned but did not commit, and another uncle defends him, but circumstances and witnesses threaten to convict the wrong man.
Wes knows all too well who pulled the trigger of the 12 gauge pump gun, and knows that the shooter could end up on Death Row.