Review: Hangman – Jack Heath

Hangman

Hangman

Timothy Blake #1

Jack Heath

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760297473

 

Description:

A 14-year-old boy vanishes on his way home from school. His frantic mother receives a disturbing 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 sociopath – 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.

 

 

My View:

Gruesome. Gory. More gore.

 

Jack Heath pushes the boundaries when it comes to the dietary habits of his antihero Timothy Blake. Blake is a challenged and dysfunctional character like no other I have read. This novel is equally compelling and repelling and if it wasn’t so convincingly written I would’ve stopped at the first bite.

 

There is no doubt Jack Heath is an accomplished writer who, in this instance, has pushed the boundaries of “acceptable” in this pitch black narrative that is served with a side of equally black humour, romance and mystery.  I don’t think I have ever read anything like this before. The book comes with a warning and it should be heeded.

 

The good news, the second book in the series, Hunter, accomplishes much more without the level of gross that Hangman celebrates.  Stay tuned for my review of Timothy Blake #2: Hunter.

 

PS – This is the perfect read for your book club – if you can stomach the contents 🙂  Guaranteed to get people talking.

 

 

 

Post Script: Scared To Death – Rachel Amphlett

scared-to-death

Scared to Death

Detective Kay Hunter #1

Rachel Amphlett

Saxon Publishing

ISBN: 9780994433756

 

Description:

A serial killer murdering for kicks.

A detective seeking revenge.

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.

With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun…

Scared to Death is a gripping fast paced crime thriller from author Rachel Amphlett, in a new series introducing Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…

 

My View:

Once you have been introduced to Detective Kay Hunter you will be firm friends. She is conscientious, driven, intelligent and hardworking and the author has generously provided a home life and a relationship that is strong and credible. Kay Hunter may have some personal and work issues that she is dealing with but these add to her credibility and make her a very well developed and realistic character. There is none of the desolate, drug addled or alcoholic traits that are so prevalent in the protagonists of so many contemporary crime fiction reads –   this three dimensional female protagonist is such a pleasant change to read.

 

And the realism doesn’t end there! Whilst not writing sensationalist, violent prose, the action and the crimes portrayed here is realistic, disturbing and very imaginable (emphasis on the imaginable). The behaviours and personality types of the victims – also very credible.

 

The strength of this novel is in Rachel Amphlett’s ability to succinctly create empathetic realistic characters and situations which allow readers to fully engage with many of the situations/issues presented here. Who hasn’t had some experience of bullying – in the workplace, in the home, at school, of being the target or the bully…of harassment, prejudice, discrimination? Parents will be able to identify with the fears and terrors the missing girls’ families feel.  And the young girls? You will recognise teenagers who fit this bill too.  And on a personal level – Kay’s “secret” is one that will resonate with many.  Dysfunctional families, family violence, divorce, co-parenting…work pressures, the pressures of the everyday…all is covered here and in doing so the author has very subtly and successfully  bonded you to the characters and the situations in this book. You will want to follow Kay Hunter on her journey to discover the truth.

 

Well done Rachel Amphlett.

 

More praise for Rachel Amphlett here:

 

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Post Script: Lost Girls – Angela Marsons

 Cover Lost Girls

Lost Girls

A D. I Kim Stone Novel

Angela Marsons

Bookouture

ISBN: 9781910751404

 

Description:

Two girls go missing. Only one will return.

 

The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.

 

When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.

 

And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.

 

Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…

 

Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price?

 

The latest utterly addictive thriller from the No.1 bestseller Angela Marsons.

 

 

 

My View:

I am not going to waste your time with waffle, superfluous ranting, praise and exultations celebrating the release of this fantastic book – it has all been said before I have nothing new to add to the existing commendations– I will just say – READ THIS BOOK! READ IT NOW!

 

 

 

Post Script: Before It’s Too Late – Jane Isaac

What if….”

Cover Before Its Too Late

Before it’s Too Late

Jane Isaac

Legend Press

9781910394625

 

Description:

I concentrated hard, desperately listening for something familiar, the sound of life. I heard nothing. Just my own breaths and the wind, whistling through branches above… The thought made me shiver. I am buried alive. Following an argument with her British boyfriend, Chinese student Min Li is abducted whilst walking the dark streets of picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon alone. Trapped in a dark pit, Min is at the mercy of her captor. Detective Inspector Will Jackman is tasked with solving the case and in his search for answers discovers that the truth is buried deeper than he ever expected. But, as another student vanishes and Min grows ever weaker, time is running out. Can Jackman track down the kidnapper, before it’s too late?

 

My View:

Jane Isaac is a fabulous writer – I enjoyed her last book, The Truth Will Out and found this new release even more enjoyable. Her characters are the everyday, the people you might casually know or bump into in the supermarket, or at school, or friends or a friend.  Her writing takes the ordinary every day person and manipulates their life when they are touched by an extraordinary event.  In this case we have a birthday drinks and an argument between lovers that has dire consequences for several of the characters, their lives will never be the same again. There are plenty of opportunities to reflect the “what ifs”, “what if I had turned back and kept walking “, “what if I had gone back inside”…”what if….” Life’s direction can be changed so quickly, without thought.

A brilliant opening which hooks the reader into the narrative, Min wakes up, disorientated, panic stricken, ill…in a concrete coffin. The tension is electrifying.  The voice of Min narrates some of the chapters, giving us a very personal view of her incarceration and her life.  And so we read on and the character development continues, I loved the male protagonist – DI Will Jackman and his assistant DS Anne Davies – she adds a lightness of touch and humour to the narrative.

This is taut, atmospheric and emotional narrative that you will not be able to put down and there is a very clever twist that I did not see coming (no spoilers here). I really enjoyed this read and can’t wait for the next book by this talented author.

Post Script: Good as Gone – Douglas Corleone

Thrills, spills and action aplenty.

Good As Gone

Good as Gone

Douglas Corleone

Macmillan

Pan Macmilan Australia

ISBN:9781250017208

Description:

Former U.S. Marshal Simon Fisk works as a private contractor, tracking down and recovering children who were kidnapped by their own estranged parents. He only has one rule: he won’t touch stranger abduction cases. He’s still haunted by the disappearance of his own daughter when she was just a child, still unsolved, and stranger kidnappings hit too close to home.

Until, that is, six-year-old Lindsay Sorkin disappears from her parents’ hotel room in Paris, and the French police deliver Simon an ultimatum: he can spend years in a French jail, or he can take the case and recover the missing girl. Simon sets out in pursuit of Lindsay and the truth behind her disappearance. But Lindsay’s captors did not leave an easy trail, and following it will take Simon across the continent, through the ritziest nightclubs and the seediest back alleys, into a terrifying world of international intrigue and dark corners of his past he’d rather leave well alone.

My View:

This was a particularly fast paced, action packed adventure that hooks the reader with a tale of kidnapping that criss-crosses continents, visits flash night clubs and seedy backstreets and the dens of drug dealers, pimps and other assorted criminals. Along the way Corleone manages to make references to many contemporary social and health problems; the major health issues in Russia since Chernobyl, drug use, poverty, and the rise of child pornography and crimes against women to name a few.

This narrative has an interesting core, a story of corruption, greed and moral and ethical questions that will become evident in the final chapters (no spoilers here). If you like your action at break neck speed then this book is for you.

Post Script: Alex – Pierre Lemaitre

Brutal, shocking, mesmerising; but justice will be served. 

Alex, Pierre Lemaitre

Alex

Pierre Lemaitre

MacLehose Press

Quercus

ISBN: 9780857051875

 

Description:

In kidnapping cases, the first few hours are vital. After that, the chances of being found alive go from slim to none. Alex Prevost is running out of time. And her abductor wants only one thing: to watch her die. Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no suspect, no leads, no hope. But as he begins to understand more about Alex, he starts to realise she is no ordinary victim. Beautiful, tough, resourceful, always two steps ahead – the enigma that is Alex will keep you guessing till the bitter, bitter end. Before long, saving her life will be the least of Verhoeven’s worries.

My View:

My attention was grabbed in the first pages – Lemaitre knows how to woo the reader, to entice and lure you into the story. First we are seduced with Alex’s innocence and her simple pleasures as she tries on wigs; the adult playing dress ups. At some point she thinks she that she might be being followed, she tries to shrug off this feeling, goes out to dinner then on her walk home WAM!   “A fist slams between her shoulder blades, leaving her breathless…the man grabs her hair…punches her in the stomach hard enough to stun a bull.” (p.7) The brutality is simultaneously captivating and revolting…you cannot help but want to read more.

A kidnapping begins this impressive mystery. We sense the fear; feel the drama, and anticipate what is to come. We know and the victim knows it will not be pleasant.  We have been successfully baited, lured and hooked by Lemaitre. What a great piece of writing and we are only seven pages into the novel!

From this point on we are spun around, confused and conflicted by the revelations that follow.  Toss the coin, is Alex victim or perpetrator? Can she be both?

This is an amazing novel that captivates and spins a twisted tale of deception, of past sins and retribution and finally of justice. “Oh the truth, the truth…Who’s to say what’s true and what isn’t. Commandant? As far as we’re concerned what’s important is not truth, it’s justice – right?” (p354) And justice it is indeed!

PS

A great translation by Frank Wynne – the words flowed easily and fluidly.