The Hanged Man by Simon Kernick

Expected publication date 16 November 2017

Review copy from the publishers, Random House, Century, via NetGalley

My rating: 2.5 stars

In December 2016 I read the first book in this series The Bone Field by Simon Kernick. It ended on a cliff-hanger in the last sentence (just when you thought it was all over). The Hanged Man is the second book in the series and refers back to events in The Bone Field, but in enough detail so it probably doesn’t matter much if you haven’t read the first book. It’s packed full of action right from the opening chapter as Hugh Manning and his wife are on the run from some very dangerous and violent people who are out to kill them. The police are also looking for Hugh as he is the only witness to what had happened at the farmhouse (dubbed ‘The Bone Field‘) where the bodies of seven women had been found.

Ray Mason, suspended from the police after the events told in The Bone Field, and now exonerated, is back on the case, working with Dan Watts in the National Crime Agency. The main suspects are the Kalamans,  brother and sister, Alastair and Lola Sheridan and a mysterious character called Mr Bone. It’s  told through different characters’ viewpoints, including Ray’s partner, ex-cop and now a PI, Tina Boyd. With so many characters acting as narrator it’s useful that Kernick uses the first person when telling what happens as seen through Ray’s eyes, whereas the rest are told in the third person.

It’s complicated, maybe over-complicated and I found myself racing through it. There are too many characters and sub-plots. Some characters are like cardboard cut-outs, the ‘baddies’ really bad and the ‘goodies’, particularly Ray Mason, who breaks all the rules, not much better. It’s a world full of corruption and secrets, where life is of little account and murder commonplace, and nobody is safe. But because I knew the identities of the criminals from the start there is no mystery – it’s just a matter of who will get to Manning first, the police or the villains and will the villains be caught? There’s climatic ending – but is this really the end …?

My thanks to the publishers for a review copy via NetGalley.

Amazon UK
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New Books

Over the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to receive copies of these books for review. I’ve finished some of them and am currently reading a few, with more yet to start:

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore – first published 2 March 2017 – set in 1792, Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence. Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. Weaving a deeply personal and moving story with a historical moment of critical and complex importance, Birdcage Walk is an unsettling and brilliantly tense drama of public and private violence, resistance and terror.

The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power by Niall Ferguson – publication date 5 October 2017 – non fiction. Most history is hierarchical: it’s about popes, presidents, and prime ministers. But what if that’s simply because they create the historical archives? What if we are missing equally powerful but less visible networks – leaving them to the conspiracy theorists, with their dreams of all-powerful Illuminati? I’m currently reading this book.

Fair of Face by Christina James – publication 15 October 2017. This is set in the Fenlands of South Lincolnshire, where a double murder is discovered in Spalding. The victims are Tina Brackenbury and her baby daughter. Her 10 year-old foster daughter, Grace has escaped the killer because she was staying at her friend, Chloe Hebblethwaith’s house at the time. Four years earlier Chloe had escaped the massacre of her family. DI Yates and his team face a series of apparently impossible conundrums.

Katharina: Deliverance by Margaret Skea – publication 18 October 2017.   A compelling portrayal of Katharina von Bora, set against the turmoil of the Peasant’s War and the German Reformation … and of Martin Luther, the controversial priest at its heart. The consequences of their meeting in Wittenberg, on Easter Sunday 1523, has reverberated down the centuries and throughout the Christian world. I have finished reading this book – my review will follow in the next few days.

The Last Hours by Minette Walters – publication date 2 November 2017. Historical fiction set in 1348 about the Black Death. In the estate of Develish in Dorsetshire, Lady Anne quarantines the people, including two hundred bonded serfs, by bringing them with the walls.  Ignorant of what is happening in the world outside they fear starvation but they fear the pestilence more. Who amongst them has the courage to leave the security of the walls? I’m currently reading this book.

The Vanishing Box by Elly Griffiths – publication date 2 November 2017. The fourth book in the Stephens and Mephisto mystery series. It’s Christmas 1953, Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby are headlining Brighton Hippodrome, an achievement only slightly marred by the less-than-savoury support act: a tableau show of naked ‘living statues’. This might appear to have nothing in common with DI Edgar Stephens’ investigation into the death of a quiet flowerseller, but if there’s one thing the old comrades have learned it’s that, in Brighton, the line between art and life – and death – is all too easily blurred… I have finished reading this book – my review will follow.

The Hanged Man by Simon Kernick – publication date 16 November 2017. This is the  second in The Bone Field series, featuring DI Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyd. A house deep in the countryside where the remains of seven unidentified women have just been discovered. A cop ready to risk everything in the hunt for their killers. A man who has seen the murders and is now on the run in fear of his life. So begins the race to track down this witness before the killers do.