A large, somewhat awkward man of simple manners, Albert Pierrepoint is like just any other decent, working-class fellow when we first encounter him. Then he goes for an interview at the local prison to become a hangman. According to Pierrepoint's mother, the same job had turned his father into an alcoholic and hustled him into an early grave, yet Pierrepoint feels he has the unique skills to succeed. The job requires strong statistical abilities in order to judge the drop required to snap a prisoner's neck without ripping off his head. He rises quickly through the ranks of executioners and becomes famous for the speed of his work. His career reaches a pinnacle when he is personally called over by General Montgomery to execute the Nuremberg criminals after World War II. His extraordinary work in dispatching hundreds of prisoners of war makes him a media star in Britain. But his experiences in Germany change Pierrepoint. He becomes increasingly unsure of his moral imperatives at the same time that abolitionists begin a fierce campaign to end hanging.