Canberra-based author Jack Heath released Hangman last year – his first adult novel. I enjoyed it and commented at the time on lead character Timothy Blake’s status as an anti-hero… as we learn there about his less-than-palatable predilections. (Which I still won’t mention here as they come as quite a shock in the first novel and there may be newcomers reading this….)
But he describes himself thus…
A bad guy who does bad things for bad reasons. I’m not religious, but the word damned seems to cover it. p 26
by Jack Heath
Series: Timothy Blake #2
Published by Allen & Unwin
on March 1st 2019
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction
Timothy Blake, ex-consultant for the FBI, now works in body-disposal for a local crime lord. One night he stumbles across a body he wasn't supposed to find and is forced to hide it. When the FBI calls Blake in to investigate a missing university professor, Blake recognises him as the dead man in his freezer.
Then another man goes missing. And another.
There's a serial killer in Houston, Texas, and Blake is running out of time to solve the case. His investigation takes him to a sex doll factory, a sprawling landfill in Louisiana and a secret cabin in the woods.
As they hunt the killer together, FBI agent Reese Thistle starts to warm to Blake - but she also gets closer and closer to discovering his terrible secret.
Can Blake uncover the killer, without being exposed himself?
The book opens as Blake (up to no good) stumbles across a body in remote bushland. He contemplates contacting his former FBI handler Thistle (also fellow former foster child) to report the body but *ahem* contaminates the scene, so decides to dispose of the body himself.
And coincidentally – though it’s obviously been some time since he last consulted for the FBI – he’s contacted by Thistle about a case (the case of the missing maths professor!)… which, as the blurb indicates, involves the body stored in his freezer.
When it’s discovered that a number of middle aged men have disappeared it seems there’s a serial killer at large. However the professor lying in Blake’s freezer doesn’t entirely fit the pattern.
And when his sleazy teaching assistant (with a penchant for videoing himself having sex with unknowing young women) does a runner it seems they might have uncovered something quite sordid.
Blake’s unsure though if they’re working on two separate cases or something bigger. And then of course there’s his ‘body disposal’ business that pays the bills and puts food on the table. #sorrynotsorry
In the first novel in the series Blake purposely kept Thistle at bay because he was attracted to her but worried his habits would put her at risk. The attraction is still there this time around and I liked that Heath didn’t prolong the ‘will they / won’t they’ scenario to the point it becomes excruciatingly tedious.
Of course, things don’t go according to plan and we know this is the type of book in which happily ever afters aren’t a certainty.
It took me a little while to get into this novel, but once I did I was hooked. I moaned a little about some confusing elements in Hangman and though the plot gets a teensy bit convoluted, I think this was much stronger and the narrative complex but feasible. I felt really comfortable with our two lead characters this time around as well and suspect Heath’s settling into a rhythm with them.
Better still, there’s an interesting twist at the end which sets us up nicely for the next in the series.
PS. Heath again starts each chapter with a riddle and for those needing closure, here are the answers!
Hunter by Jack Heath was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.