Hangman - Daniel Cole

Sooo….book #2. A daunting task, particularly when the first one was a huge hit. But this author really upped the ante by leaving out his popular MC William “Wolf” Fawkes & switching the focus to another character.

 

That would be DCI Emily Baxter. She worked the Ragdoll case with Fawkes & is still reeling from the fallout. To make matters worse, her professional life is a nightmare. Fawkes is AWOL, former colleague Edmunds transferred to Fraud & she got promoted. She just wants to forget it ever happened but it seems the universe has other plans.

 

FBI Agents Curtis & Rouche land on her doorstep with news of a copycat murder in the US. It’s a double homicide designed to attract maximum attention & they want her help. They don’t know it yet but it will be the first of many in New York & London as they join forces to find the mastermind behind the carnage.

 

So here’s the deal. I loved Ragdoll. From the first page, I was firmly in its grip & became seriously cranky if interrupted. Alas, I can’t say the same about this one. I think part of the reason was how much I enjoyed the black humour served up by Fawkes’ character. It gave the reader little moments of  humorous relief from the grisly tension & I keenly missed his presence here.

 

Baxter is a compelling character but she’s also a physical & emotional hot mess. I desperately wanted to take Thomas (her doormat…er…boyfriend) out for a chat over a pint. She & Rouche spend the majority of their time haring around New York & London as a legion of bodies pop up on both sides of the pond like some macabre game of Whack-a-Mole. Bruised & bloody from multiple attacks, it’s defies belief they’re even breathing let alone leading a multi-agency manhunt.

 

One thing that hasn’t changed is Cole’s ability to come up with new & inventive ways for people to die. Practice your “ewwww”…you’re gonna need it. I was happy to see Edmunds return & enjoyed his input as Baxter secretly keeps him in the loop. But i just didn’t find Baxter to be fleshed out or layered enough to be the star of the show. Without a strong MC to hang the story on, it became a succession of frenzied action sequences until the final chapters revealed all.

 

As always, it depends on what keeps you turning the pages. For me there was a certain spark or something that was missing. But if you’re a fan of full on action, grab this & settle in for a fast paced read.