I’ve heard of Simon Kernick of course, but only read one of his previous books and that was some time ago.
I note that a number of his series seem to overlap and converge, which is an approach I really like. However… I’d recommend reading – at least this series – in order as it really felt like I came in midway through a conversation, as a result I’m conscious that most (or any) of my criticism of this novel generally stems from my lack of context as much as anything.
The Hanged Man
by Simon Kernick
Series: The Bone Field #2
Published by Random House UK
on November 16th 2017
Genres: Police Procedural
ISBN: 1780894473, 9781780894478
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.
For DI Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyd, the road ahead is a dangerous one, with bodies and betrayal at every turn…
Kernick has written series featuring Tina Boyd and Ray Mason before and I’m assuming both featured in the first book in this series, The Bone Field.
The backcover blurb isn’t particularly useful so I probably should set the scene a little.
The book opens with lawyer Hugh Manning and his wife, biding time before going on the run. Manning admits he’s been working with some shady characters for a few decades and things have reached the point that he needs to flee or become a target. Fortunately he’s squirreled away some money and they’re just waiting for a safe time to head Central America.
Unfortunately the baddies catch up with him and the book opens with his wife’s murder and Manning (somehow) escaping the hired assassins.
We then flick over to Ray. He’s been brought into the National Crime Agency by Dan Watts to the horror of everyone who’s known or worked with him before. I gather Ray’s not a team player and plays fast and loose with the rules – which has resulted in lives being (possibly unnecessarily) lost. He’s a good cop and investigator though and is working with Dan to track down a group of men responsible for the torture and death of several girls and young women.
Ray has obviously been on their tail for some time and now is officially on the case. And here the two stories collide with Manning being identified as the money-man for the wealthy and sadistic group. As a result Ray and Dan are determined to find Manning before his former employers do, hoping they can get enough dirt to take the baddies down.
In the mix is Ray’s (I gather) newish girlfriend Tina who’s kinda working the same series of murders – albeit from a different angle. Added in is the fact they’re still finding and identifying the group’s victims.
So – there’s A LOT happening. And it’s all interrelated and I’m assuming following up from the first book in the series and possibly other books by Kernick.
It’s action-packed but felt a little choppy to me. The plot didn’t flow smoothly and it felt as if we jumped about from idea to idea, from premise to premise. I suspect this was a result of so many intermingled issues but I think the book suffered as a result. Of course, it may also be that – had I read the other book in this series, or others featuring the characters – I’d be far more familiar with them and their ways.
It’s a pretty long book for a police procedural / thriller but Kernick does cram a lot in there. Fans of the British author will undoubtedly enjoy this book which will keep them turning page after page. But I’d recommend – if possible – reading The Bone Field first at a minimum.
The Hanged Man by Simon Kernick will be published by Penguin Random House UK and available from 16 November 2017.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.