Book Review: Hangman

Genre: Crime, Thriller
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Timothy Blake isn’t your typical consultant. He’s the guy the FBI goes to when the cases can’t be solved, but need to be. He’s also the sort of guy the FBI really doesn’t want to be seen working with. Codenamed Hangman, Timothy Blake is a terrifying predator in his own right, more than happy to turn against other criminals if the price is right. The Hangman’s price is steep: for every life he saves, another life is taken.

When a 14 year old boy disappears, his mother sent a demand for ransom, there’s not a lot of time for the FBI to sweep in and save the day. When they fail to find a lead, it’s up to Blake to bring Cameron Hall safely home.

The Hangman is used to being the apex predator, but he might just have met his match. Cameron’s kidnapper is vicious in a way that startles even Blake, and more than able to send his pursuers on a wild goose chase.

This is not cosy crime, and if you prefer your mysteries with doe-eyed sometimes-detectives and dear old ladies saving the day, you’re going to want to give ‘Hangman’ a hard miss. ‘Hangman’ is cheerful in its gore, with a knack for unexpected violence that’ll leave even the most jaded crime readers at least a little bit impressed. Squeamish readers? This is not the book for you.

But for those of us who can stomach the grossness, ‘Hangman’ is an edge of your seat, shouting at your book kind of a read that’s hard to put down and impossible to forget. Timothy Blake isn’t your stereotypical psychopath, and author Jack Heath has worked magic in creating a painfully real, at times deeply relatable character. Looking through a killer’s eyes makes for an uncomfortable, utterly compelling read. This isn’t the sort of book to gracefully ponder how a man becomes a monster. Instead, it’s a manifesto written in blood asking how we don’t all just submit to our crueller impulses.

It’s all the best parts of noir fiction, all the spatter pattern gholishness of forensics focused dramas, and so much fun it might just concern you a little bit. ‘Hangman’ gets technical when it needs to, yet never makes it feel like a lecture. Timothy Blake isn’t just another Sherlock-like antihero snarking his way to success, isn’t just another grump with a heart of gold looking for redemption. And that constant tension between his angels and demons makes for one hell of a page-turner.

If you love your crime bloodied, gritty, and electrifying, ‘Hangman’ might just be the year’s biggest ‘must read’.

‘Hangman’ is published by Allen & Unwin, and is available through the publisher’s website, and from all the good retailers.

Rating: 4 and a half stars

Review by Kylie Thompson

No comments yet.