I regularly attend the "Read and Share" adult book club at the Joint-Use Library, where we choose a genre or type of book instead of a specific title to read. Recently, we chose to read Westerns, which are not a genre I'm familiar with (or very willing to explore, if I'm being honest). So I went in search of a "Western for people who don't like Westerns," and The Master Executioner by Loren D. Estleman is the recommendation I got... and it was spot-on!
The story follows Oscar Stone, who had a rough start in life during the westward expansion. He decided to be a carpenter and move west with his new wife, where he could help build all the new cities springing up across the west. But he soon found that a lot of other enterprising young men had the same idea as him, and work was scarcer than he expected. This is when he ran across Fabian Rudd, a hangman who takes incredible pride in his work, and sees it more as an art than justice. Oscar follows in his footsteps and learns the trade, and his entire life changes.
This is truly a Western for people who don't like Westerns, as there are none of the tropes you'd expect from the genre... there are trains, but no train robberies; there are deaths, but not via shoot-outs.