I was intrigued in the idea of a joint investigation between the UK and USA police forces as I find myself increasingly interested in the different justice systems. Working linked crime scenes in countries so far apart is also a concept I haven’t found explored too often in crime writing. I hadn’t read any previous work by this author, and although the cover says “author of international bestseller Ragdoll” I didn’t realise that it was a prequel to Hangman and that the two books were linked. So, I was effectively starting with the second book in a series here.
Ragdoll is alluded to a lot throughout Hangman and I instantly wished I’d picked it up first, I even contemplated stopping reading, going to buy Ragdoll, then continuing with Hangman afterwards. But, I carried on and the story can flow fine, just some of the character background is missing, but you can guess the gist. It does work as a standalone book, and I’m also not sure I gelled with the detective characters enough to want to read other novels featuring them.
This plot is incredibly dark and very gruesome, stuff of nightmares. I think I was haunted by imagery of certain scenes for a few nights after reading, so don’t tackle this one if you’re faint-hearted or not good with gore and psychotic murder scenes.
I liked the pace of the book and it kept me turning the pages, although I found the detective characters a little hard to follow and track because of the location difference, plus there was an element of cooperation vs independence throughout. More like it was being treated as a competition rather than parallel crime solving. There’s a lot of arrogance, stubbornness and hunches as opposed to realistic, solid police work and I’m not a fan of thrillers that use a lot of artistic license and fantasy opportunism.
The book was well written and I enjoyed Cole’s humourous anecdotes, I just don’t think the characters developed as much as they could have, but that may be my fault for not reading Ragdoll first. I am unlikely to go and pick Ragdoll up now, nor Endgame is the 3rd in the series, after Hangman. If you enjoy sadistic and horrific crimes then this series would suit you, I could compare the gore to Karin Slaughter but I much prefer Slaughter’s plots and repeating characters. Just not a favourite read of mine. – GJ