I’ve finally read Hangman by Daniel Cole after being sent it in January, and it is INCREDIBLE. I hadn’t read Ragdoll, so I’m glad that this book only referenced it gently so I can go back and read it at another time. This novel does work as a standalone, but I would recommend reading Ragdoll first if you haven’t so the references aren’t confusing. Hangman is out on 22nd March 2018 published by Trapeze, so you have plenty of time to read the first!
Hangman has an insanely bloody, gory and intricate plot. DCI Emily Baxter is called to the U.S. to investigate a murder/suicide which appears to be targeted at her in connection with the Ragdoll murders. Once she gets there, she realises that the New York murders are being reflected in London, with the same number of “Puppets”, “Bait” and police being killed. She must return to London to prevent a terror attack and, as more people die, the revelation of the puppet-master becomes clearer. Baxter is joined by a collection of wonderful characters; Rouche, Curtis, Vanita, Blake, Edmunds and her boyfriend Thomas.
What I liked…
It’s going to be difficult to find something I didn’t like about Hangman, Cole has done a wonderful job, using Baxter’s dark humour, satirical nature and brutality to add humour to what would otherwise be a very dark, humourless story. I enjoyed the narrative itself, with Cole not being afraid to kill as many people as he needed to to represent just how little his puppet-master cares for human life. I enjoyed the obvious differences between New York and London, as well as the way Cole sets the scene so the reader knows where they are; if you’ve lived in London, you will know exactly where Baxter and Rouche are. The same applies for New York, I can imagine.
I really enjoyed the characterisation, with Rouche starting off as the clown of the group, but eventually having his dark side revealed and being brought out of his shell. I enjoyed the protective comradery felt between him and Baxter, as well as the witty rapport between them. Thomas is an unwaveringly loyal and patient boyfriend and I honestly don’t know how or why he puts up with Baxter as a girlfriend. Edmunds is one of my favourite characters, as he helps out Baxter regardless of the circumstances, although I would have liked for him to be included at the very end of the book. Curtis and Blake were great for their purposes in the novel and Curtis especially made me feel a lot towards her.
I also enjoyed the overall style Hangman is written in. Cole writes the book in third person, which lends itself to the switches between dates and scenes involving Baxter and the therapy sessions in the criminal’s office. The novel is well sign-posted and I found it easy to follow what was going on 98% of the time. There were a few ambiguities at the end which has left me itching for the next instalment in the series. I also enjoyed the slight Carrie reference in the middle of the narrative.
What I didn’t like…
The only thing I didn’t like was the amount of murder that happened in the story before they had any suspects or leads. It was a little repetitive, although it set the scene well to create the parallel between London and New York, and then for the majority of the second half of the book, the characters were almost waiting for murders to come.
Overall, I thought that Hangman was well written, had great characterisation and a unique, bloody plot. Daniel Cole writes with passion and you can tell he absolutely feels every word. Hangman is definitely up for contention for the best book I have read in 2018. I received an advance reader copy of Hangman from Trapeze Books and an e-copy from NetGalley.