Review: Hangman

Title // Hangman
Author // Jack Heath
Publication Date // January 2018
Publisher // Allen & Unwin
Readership // Adult
Genre // Crime-Thriller
Australian RRP // $29.99
Rating // ✭✭✭✭

I received a copy of Hangman from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hangman is not recommended for young readers. Content may be confronting for some readers.

Meet Timothy Blake, codename Hangman. Blake is a genius, known for solving impossible cases. He’s also a psychopath with a dark secret, and the FBI’s last resort.

A 14-year-old boy vanishes on his way home from school. His frantic mother receives a terrifying ransom call. It’s only hours before the deadline, and the police have no leads.

Enter Timothy Blake, codename Hangman. Blake is a genius, known for solving impossible cases. He’s also a dangerous criminal – the FBI’s last resort.

But this time Blake might have met his match. The kidnapper is more cunning and ruthless than anyone he’s faced before. And Blake has been assigned a new partner, a woman linked to the past he’s so desperate to forget.

Timothy Blake has a secret, one so dark he will do anything to keep it hidden.

And he also has a price. Every time he saves a life, he takes one…

Already sold into five territories, Hangman is a mesmerising dissection of the criminal mind and a bulletproof thriller.

Hangman is a fascinating – and gruesome – story of a criminal working for the FBI.

Timothy Blake is not your regular protagonist – he’s not a hero, he’s a criminal, and his dark urges are the root of twisted blackmail scheme that sees him helping solve troubling cases for the FBI. He’s whip-smart, and is able to solve just about any puzzles, but he also harbours a dark secret, one that could see him imprisoned if it’s revealed.

Brought in on a case to find a missing 14-year old boy, Blake must race against the clock to find out who might have kidnapped the boy and why, all while trying to work with a new partner who has ties to his past. 

The crime story at the centre of this book, is not necessarily a unique one, but the pace and the criminal past (and present) of the lead character are not something I’ve read recently in adult thriller novels. Blake is a bad guy – and he knows he’s a bad guy – but part of him wants to do something good. It deals with poverty, the effect of trauma and violence, and the dark urges that some individuals face. There’s a nice parallel to Blake’s personal history, with that of his new partner, who came from similar beginnings, but who’s path went in a very different direction.

This is not a book for the faint of heart, and definitely not for younger readings. If you can’t handle blood and body parts, this will probably make you squeamish. That said, a lot of it is quite clinical or matter-of-fact (which is, in itself, quite chilling), and Heath hasn’t shied away from creating a villain at the heart of a story.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller to read this summer, Hangman’s a safe bet.

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