Hangman - Jack Heath

Whoa…what did I just read? Before I start my blab, first things first. This is a well written & gripping crime/suspense story with a compelling MC. But…it’s not for the squeably. Seriously. Ok, we’re going in.


Timothy Blake is not your typical FBI consultant. He has little education, lives with a paranoid drug dealer & has about $5 to his name. Years ago he had a run-in with a cop named Peter Luzhin that left a lasting impression on both of them. Luzhin is now director of the FBI office in Houston & when a case can’t be cracked, he calls Blake. A successful resolution means Blake gets paid with the only kind of currency he wants.


It all begins with a missing teenage boy. There are plenty of red herrings & inconsistencies but eventually Blake is sure he’s got it sussed. Besides, he really needs to collect his fee. Unfortunately it’s not that simple & Blake is soon caught in a complex web designed by a devious & intelligent killer. Being partnered with a new handler is not helping. Special Agent Reese Thistle is not thrilled about her new assignment, either. She doesn’t understand why Luzhin has brought in this odd outsider who looks likes a homeless guy. But then she sees him work.


Blake is a master at solving puzzles. His sharp, analytical mind notices the tiny details everyone else has missed. Anything out of place, something missing & all the little facial tics & vocal tells that make up a lie. Initially you wonder how this brilliant guy ended up in such dire straits. But through flashbacks interspersed with the story we get the 411 on Blake’s childhood & begin to piece together how the little boy became this man.


The investigative aspect of the story is fast paced & layered, But what really kept me reading was Blake. And believe me, given his proclivities, that’s no small feat. He’s smart, complicated & dryly funny. His history & present circumstances are heartbreaking at times. Then reality would come crashing in & I’d be utterly repelled by his behaviour. No matter what you end up thinking about him, you have to be impressed by the author’s ability to make you feel such polarized emotions so keenly.


So there you have it. It won’t be for everyone & no doubt there will be lots of chatter about this one. My best advice if you’re thinking of cracking the cover is choose a brightly lit room, take your heart medication & maybe keep a wee beverage nearby. You’ll probably need it.