- Daniel Cole.
- 384 pages.
- Crime / Thriller / Mystery / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
A detective with no one to trust
A killer with nothing to lose
18 months after the ‘Ragdoll’ murders, a body is found hanging from Brooklyn Bridge, the word ‘BAIT’ carved into the chest.
In London a copycat killer strikes, branded with the word ‘PUPPET’, forcing DCI Emily Baxter into an uneasy partnership with the detectives on the case, Special Agents Rouche and Curtis.
Each time they trace a suspect, the killer is one step ahead. With the body count rising on both sides of the Atlantic, can they learn to trust each other and identify who is holding the strings before it is too late?
Firstly, you unequivocally need to have read the first book, Ragdoll before you even consider reading Hangman. The events and ramifications of Ragdoll are integral to Hangman and anyway, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you picked up this book without reading the previous book as it’s a sweet read and it is fucking awesome.
For those hoping for another story centred around Fawkes or as he is also known Wolf (he has a right mouthful of a name – William Oliver Layton-Fawkes ergo, Wolf. Damn, just imagine if Cole had named him Peter Ian Samson-Sutcliffe or Stuart Howard Irwin-Thompson or Terence William Arthur Tompkins or Frank Unwin Clark-King or even worse and this is the last one as I’m enjoying this far too much Charles Uylesses Norris-Taylor) bar a couple of pages he isn’t actually in the book (those who have read Ragdoll and its cliffhanger ending with regards to the character will know why). Instead, this time, it’s Baxter who picks up the reins, taking over the role as the lead character in Cole’s dark tale.
Hangman takes place 18 months (approximately) after the ending of Ragdoll. Due to the infamy of the Ragdoll killings in that time, there have been many copycat killers’ mirroring and taking inspiration from the murders (lots of sicko’s and weirdo’s out there folks). The most recent of these copycat killings have taken place in NYC where a body has been strung up on a bridge in a grotesque pose with a word carved into the chest. It is not just a murder though but a murder-suicide and both of the dead have words carved into them, one with ‘bait‘ and the other with ‘puppet‘. With the similarity to the Ragdoll killings and owing to the fact that one of the dead shares their name with Wolf Baxter is summoned to NYC to help aid the CIA and FBI in the investigation.
Baxter isn’t the only returning character in the book with any page time and Edmunds also returns from Ragdoll assisting Baxter where possible with the new case. Baxter is supported by a new cast of characters in the wintery NYC setting where Hangman predominantly takes place for the first half of the book. Then, when a horrifying event occurs in London we see Cole bring Baxter back to the equally wintery streets of London over fears that an equally atrocious and horrendous event could also be planned for the UK capital.
With murders occurring on both sides of the Atlantic that are connected by the use of the words ‘bait‘ and ‘puppet‘ on the bodies. And, with the death toll rising the race is on to stop the killings before they escalate further and for the team to find out who is the puppetmaster behind it all?!?
As a character I adore Baxter (if she was real and if she read that she’d tell me to fuck off) there is just something about her candid and undiplomatic approach that is appealing and I find her to be a tremendous character. In Ragdoll, she was the perfect foil for Wolf and she shone. In Hangman, returning, simply put, she shines brighter. She has tried to move on from the events of Ragdoll, tried and failed. The traumatic events have left her deeply scarred and more paranoid than ever with deeply routed trust issues that bleed into all aspects of her life both personal and professional. With Edmunds also returning it was interesting to see the relationship between Baxter and Edmunds flourish. I felt it was a nice touch, from mentor and annoyance in Ragdoll to friendship and respect in Hangman.
Most of the characters in Hangman are to some degree messed up. Granted, some with far more issues than others but Cole certainly knows how to put his creations through the wringer as he takes them on a macabre merry-go-round of murderous mayhem!
I also really liked Rouche, the CIA agent who takes on the role of Baxter’s partner as a character. He’s the opposite in personality of Wolf from Ragdoll and I feel that was the right way for Cole to go with the character rather than trying to create a carbon copy of the much-loved Wolf.
Rouche and Baxter as a duo are like chalk and cheese. Admittedly, he is a rather weird and eccentric sort of chap (he also has a heartbreaking backstory that will pull on the heartstrings of most reader’s) but with an affable demeanour. Those different traits work surprisingly well with the blunt, often terse and snarky Baxter as we see them find common ground and bond together over the course of the investigation.
Hangman is an adrenaline-fuelled read with an almost unrelenting pace but when he needs to Cole knows when to take his foot off the gas. Giving his characters time to breathe and the story time to rest. The pages fly by and you keep on turning them eager to discover what twist, turn or macabre incident will happen next. There are some stellar set pieces strewn throughout Hangman with plenty of grisly murders taking place and both the US and UK climaxes are gloriously horrific in nature.
To combat the darkness that Cole throws at us and just like with its predecessor Ragdoll there is plenty of humour to be found in the pages of Hangman (it comes out of nowhere but damn, the spider scene is absolutely hilarious). FYI laughs and gore mix together really well.👍
I would love to see this series turned into either a TV show or a movie, with the characters, the set pieces and the story I feel that it would translate really well to either the big or small screen and would be epic!
When I read Ragdoll earlier in the year being the polite and erudite blogger that I am I referred to it as ‘book crack‘. C’mon, you have to give me props for my creativity with that description! What I actually wrote regarding Ragdoll was:
“it is the equivalent of crack, a potent new strain of book crack that kept luring me back with its addictive qualities”.
Well, Ragdoll was the debut book by Cole and with Hangman he shows that he wasn’t a one-hit wonder once again creating book crack only this time it is an even more intoxicating and rampant strain!
Be still my beating blackened heart! Dark humour, grisly murders, a spiky lead with one hell of a snarky bark and more bite than a pit bull and a thoroughly gripping story combine to make Hangman highly entertaining and better than its predecessor!
Is the next book out yet? Cos I really want to read the conclusion of the trilogy, like, I mean, right now and after the ending to Hangman, I guarantee that my patience will have worn extremely thin by the time the third and final book (The Wolves) is released in September 2019.
Follow The Tattooed Book Geek on: