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A young boy deer hunting alone for his first time sits in his tree stand waiting for dawn and the appearance of the deer he has scouted. As first light filters into Link Hollow, he sees something through his scope. Bodies. Two of them.
Examining the scene, Richard Carter sees that a middle-aged man and a young woman have been shot execution style. When Sheriff Shug Shively accompanies arrives, he recognizes the dead as members of the Stout family, what passes for gentry in Hawthorn County. Acerbic old Cyrus Stout, a political enemy, will make the job of bringing the murder to justice unpleasant. He has a knack for it.
In a few days, another body turns up in the forest. An unidentified young man is found hanged. Worse, it appears that he has been tortured. His clothes have been partly burned. And though strangulation was the cause of death,there is soot in his nostrils and lungs. This was pure devilry.
Extortion and the elimination of witnesses. An apparent hate crime. Are these totaly separate  crimes? Or is there a connection.To find out, Richard will have to deal with the Stouts.