By Rob Hill
Hale, February 2015
Wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder, Josh Tillman busts out of jail the night before he is due to hang. Rather than go on the run, he heads home determined to prove his innocence and track down his wife’s killer. He has no evidence and no witnesses to back up his story. His father-in-law, cattle baron Stover Meckets, wants him dead and a corrupt prison guard is chasing him, determined to claim the price on his head.
A hanging posse has trailed him from prison and is closing in. When the preacher who conducted his wedding ceremony turns up out of nowhere and has the nerve to stand up for Tillman, he is shot in cold blood.
With no one to help him, can Tillman figure out who the killer is and find enough evidence to prove it before the posse arrives and strings him up from a tree in his own backyard?
In a story that takes place over a very short period of time, Rob Hill perfectly captures the senses of frustration and hopelessness in not just Tillman’s quest but also in Stover Meckets as he is accused of killing his own daughter, something he denies with just as much passion as Tillman does in saying he didn’t kill his wife. In fact a lot of this tale revolves around the struggle to convince others that they weren’t involved in the death of June Meckets.
As the posse closes in the story becomes much more tense and the arrival of the preacher and a group of cowboys further complicates matters and it isn’t long before Tillman feels the bite of a rope around his neck leading to a superb ‘how is he going to get out of that’ moment.
I’ve read a few of Rob Hill’s other Black Horse Westerns and each one has left me eager to try more of his work, Hanging Day equally does that too. If you’ve not read Rob Hill yet then now might be just the time to rectify that.