Book Review: Hangman by Daniel Cole

Hangman 2

Synopsis: How do you catch a killer who’s already dead?’

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. 

Author: Daniel Cole

Title: Hangman

Publisher: Trapeze

Date: 2018

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Opening my bookmarks to pick a quote for this review, I realised that I had only highlighted one passage. At a grand 16% of the way through the book.

Normally, when this happens, it’s because there are no passages that stick out for me, no lines that grab my attention.

This time, however, it is because I spent the majority of the book trying to remember how to breathe, let alone bookmarking specific passages.

Hangman was such an intense, chilling and gripping read. It may only be March, but so far, this has just become the best book of the year.

It’s been over a year since the Ragdoll murders and Emily Baxter has been promoted. She regrets it though; she isn’t destined to sit behind a desk and have to do paperwork, not when she is good at her job out in the field.

The haggard woman appeared to be the FBI equivalent of Vanita: a bureaucrat masquerading as an operational agent, complete with token sidearm just in case anyone ever attempted to steal the photocopier from her office.

I love Baxter’s character. She has the tough-cop routine down to an art when it comes to not caring about procedures: she has a job to do and she will do it, not waste time playing politics. But she also cares deeply about what she does and is affected emotionally when things go wrong. The reader is never once led to believe she is cold and detached, which would be so easy to portray given her attitude. She is an in-depth character and the reader witnesses her at her strongest, and most vulnerable, throughout the course of the book.

The secondary characters are also well-developed. Curtis is prim and proper, but is desperate to prove herself. Rouche is a complicated man, and it takes the majority of the book until both Baxter and the reader knows exactly what drives him. The mystery surrounding Rouche’s character makes him engaging and likeable.

Returning characters also made me smile, especially Edmunds. No longer in the force, he can’t help be involved when Baxter turns to him for answers. He’s good at finding the clues, and is such a likeable character that I wanted him to take centre stage the entire time.

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Hangman might have some of the most chilling murder scenes I’ve ever read. One particular set up literally left me gasping in the middle of a commuter train, unable to tear my eyes from the page. It was creepy, it was chilling, and the results were so disastrous for the team that you’re left wondering if they’re ever going to get their bad guy.

The tension was high from the start, with events spiralling out of control very early on. The pacing is fast, but I was literally holding my breath throughout the last few chapters in anticipating. Terrifying murders, fantastic characters, great settings made all the more chilling by atrocious weather conditions… It’s been a while since I’ve been gripped to a book the way I was to this one.

The only thing I regretted was that it has been a while since I read Ragdoll so didn’t have the consistencies in the characterisations. Brilliant read!

Goodreads | Amazon


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