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?
Having loved Ragdoll last year, I had high expectations of the follow up Hangman. Daniel Cole resurrects his winning formula of black humour, with gory crimes to churn your stomach.
The story focuses on Emily Baxter this time, with the heroic William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes only getting the occasional mention. Baxter has been promoted to DCI, for her work on the infamous case. A man has been found hanging from Brooklyn Bridge with a carving on his chest ‘bait’. This is the start of a deliberate campaign, with staged nasty deaths found both in the UK and the US. Someone sinister is manipulating the media and, creating theatre out of staged deaths across the world. Baxter is once again joined by a band of merry men; Rouche from the CIA, Curtis from the FBI and her former colleague, Alex Edmunds. Will they trace the master manipulator in time to stop more brutal killings?
The book suffers for concentrating on Emily Baxter. We still get the cinematic evil wrapped in a pile of mounting bodies, shades of Seven. It all just doesn’t work as well as the original story. Without Wolf, we get a very pale imitation of the superior Ragdoll. Baxter is rather annoying. She is still coming to terms with the trauma, from Ragdoll. She is a mess, who hides it behind sarcasm and bossiness. She keeps her long suffering boyfriend on a short leash and tries to act tough with her work colleagues. She is not a strong enough or interesting enough of a character to carry the show. In Ragdoll, we had Wolf to complement her and balance the extreme action. This time, Baxter and her merry band of men with their quips and in-jokes do not quite hit the mark. Even the gory scenes seem a little muted this time. They could have done with an injection of something special. More spine tingling horrors. More shocking crimes. More something. Rouche cannot match Wolf, even when his secrets are revealed and we get a sense of his tragic past.
Hangman is a good effort by Daniel Cole, to match the wonders and winning formula of Ragdoll. It was entertaining. It just lacked the passion, the horrors and the fabulous pace of the original. Emily Baxter was not big enough of a character to carry the weight of the drama. We are promised the return of Wolf, in the next book. Very welcome, indeed. Baxter seemed lost without Wolf.