Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.
DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.
As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.
As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.
Hangman is the second novel of Daniel Cole’s trilogy about the Ragdoll murders. His first novel, the original ‘Ragdoll’, left me with a lot of anticipation in the end and I was quite eager to see how the story would continue but I’m afraid the plotline didn’t pick up where it left off and the focus in this novel is really on Baxter who teams up with detective Rouche and Curtis in this novel while she also still manages to get assistance from Edmunds on the side (poor Edmunds helps out in his own private time). Baxter has been promoted to Chief Inspector and thrown into an international inquiry to assist the FBI and CIA when they are facing their own Ragdoll murders, which takes her from London to New York. Meanwhile new murders commence in London once again as well.
Hangman is everything Ragdoll was but more. It was more gruesome, it was more (way more) spectacular, it was bigger, it was bolder, it was more complex and with a much higher body count.
I really liked the new team surrounding Baxter and I even think I liked the team’s interactions more than the murder inquiry here for most of the story. Ragdoll was perhaps a bit easier to follow than Hangman as well. Rouche (pronounced like whoosh) was very likeable and the brilliant opening scene where Baxter is being interviewed had me fearing the worst already for what was about to happen. The hunt for the killer wasn’t as much about finding out who was responsible but more their efforts for capturing him without going under themselves. In the final and third part of the novel I was almost breaking a sweat as the situation became increasingly dangerous when they try to infiltrate and get closer to the killer. Mr. Cole doesn’t hold back at all and it already felt like a movie. Seven will get some competition soon ;-).
This was a good follow-up for Ragdoll – even though that remains my favorite for reasons I can’t really point out other than that this one is perhaps just a little bit more chaotic to read with everything that is happening in both countries – and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next one in the series!
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.