Charlie is doomed to hang. When the bell tolls eight times in the morning, the blinds will be pulled down. Will the Home Secretary intervene?
Brought up on the fringes of squalor in an ugly North Country town, and sickened by the monotony of working life, Charlie Bernstein, has emerged with with one overriding aim: to fight his way up into the bright world of money and influence. Only one thing holds him back: Class division: Born into poverty he soon begins to experience the social divide between those that have and those that don't. His lack of a decent education, a decent living wage, and equal opportunities for self-betterment are all turned against him in an agonising manner reminiscent of Dickensian times.
He is an attractive young man, and his childhood sweetheart falls in love with him. Her father is rich, and he's not at all keen on his daughter's relationship with a man from the working-classes.
Then the bugles of National Service sound, and Charlie is summoned to the east coast of Kent to begin his service. He gladly leaves behind the dirty, old, town, and sets off on an adventure that unfortunately leads him into life or death situations in the North African deserts. The question is, how did he become a killer?