Thornton Guthrie works his father's land at gunpoint. The year is 1834, and men of the establishment have total control over their kin. Escaping is out of the question. Estranged from his abused mother, Thornton lives in isolation.
That changes when Thornton's father buys three slaves: William, Ronan, and Henry. Thornton loathes slavery and realizes that for the first time in fifteen years, his father—and his father's rifle—are outnumbered. Thornton dreams of joining forces with the men to plot an escape, but as the slave owner's son, he must convince the men he is on their side while under the watchful barrel of his father's gun. He discovers he has something unexpected in common with thirty-six-year-old William and hazards a dangerous initial contact, hoping it won't cost him everything. Thornton's bravery sets in motion an audacious escape plan that, through a deadly turn of events, becomes a race against the clock further complicated by a crafty interloper on Guthrie Farms, Thornton's ill-timed first romance, and the lethal secret of one of the captives.
A tale of treachery, bondage, fellowship, and courage, Wake Not the Hangman depicts how one young man's desire to escape his wretched father leads to a much bigger quest: freedom for a band of newfound friends confined by servitude and the law.