As the old saying goes, “You can pick your friends, but not your relatives.” In tranquil Northumberland County, Ontario, two families are well acquainted with the grim truth of that innocuous-sounding expression. They are the descendants of the first, and only, man executed in Northumberland's history. In a sordid true-crime tale of poison and philandering in 1850s Ontario, the respected Dr. William Henry King astonished the countryside with the sinister murder of his wife and with his subsequent attempts to evade justice. His capture and conviction were triumphs of vengeful relatives and early forensic science.
Dan Buchanan, a blood relative of Dr. King's, grew up dogged by rumours of his ancestor’s bloody crime, but family shame and obfuscation left him with more questions as time wore on. Now, based on original documents, breathless reportage of the sensational King trial, and interviews held just after the notorious hanging, Buchanan reconstructs the full tale of crime and punishment, which shocked the province and has engendered speculation for over a century and a half.