Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain. DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest. As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET. As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.
Last year, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Ragdoll by Daniel Cole. It was a great and unique police procedural that made a difference because of the way the story progressed. By the time I finished reading it, I deeply admired Daniel Cole’s ability to craft such a unique storyline.
I didn’t know what to expect from Hangman, but the early reviews seemed promising enough. And while I wasn’t sure how I felt during the first few pages (confused, for sure), I soon became so engrossed in the story that I forgot everything around me. I read it compulsively and I didn’t want to do anything else.
As in Ragdoll, Hangman’s concept and consequent storyline is “big” and complex. This is not a small crime and it’s not set in a small town either. This is a rather spectacular case set both in London and New York, designed to stay in your mind, filled with graphic murders and shocking scenes that feel powerful and cinematic.
The main character in this book is not William Fawkes, aka Wolf (if you read the last book, you can imagine why), but her friend/colleague Emily Baxter. There were other major characters like Rouche and Curtis, and my personal favorite, Alex Edmunds. The interactions between them were sometimes hilarious and although Baxter isn’t exactly easy to love, you have to admire her wit. Rouche was incredible as Baxter’s partner in crime and her boyfriend will probably win the Boyfriend Of The Year award really soon.
I’ve consciously avoided mentioning any details about the plot because I want you to discover everything for yourselves. Hangman’s story is a complex web of lies and manipulation that will make you reflect on how villains are created. And of course, there were plenty of twist and turns for everyone to enjoy.
So even though I loved Ragdoll, I love Hangman even more. It’s bigger, it’s better, it’s surprising and captivating and it has everything I look for in crime/thriller books. Whatever you do, don’t miss it.
ARC, Trapeze, Orion Books, 2018