In the Vale of Aylesbury, near Oxford, during World War II, a young man named Jeremiah Bembo is shaken to his core by the sight of a downed German pilot - mortally wounded, taunted by villagers, hanging from a tree. This horrible vision of death effects a profound change in him, and presents a kind of calling: to become a benevolent executioner, a figure of succor and compassion in men's final hours. In time he is England's swiftest, most expert hangman, a revered and dreaded legend known as Solomon Straw. A Perfect Execution is the story of Jeremiah, of Solomon, of a man so moved by death that he becomes a merciful angel. It is also the story of the world that turns around him: of his wife, Judith, whose passions wash like tides over her husband's stony stillness of his brash cousin, Will, who vies for Judith's heart and of three restless young people whose longings intersect in a small-town tragedy that encompasses Jeremiah, Judith, Will - and Solomon Straw.
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