Book review: The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 Permalink

I was fortunate to start this series at the beginning and until I checked Goodreads I assumed The Hanging Club was the second in the series by Tony Parsons. And was about to tell you it should be pretty easy to catch up if you need to.

I was surprised therefore to discover this is actually number three and I ‘somehow’ missed number two last year. So obviously it doesn’t matter if you’re playing catch-up because Parsons does a good job of succinctly sharing any necessary backstory.

Book review: The Hanging Club by Tony ParsonsThe Hanging Club
by Tony Parsons
Series: Max Wolfe #3
Published by Century, Random House UK
on May 19th 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1780892373
Pages: 416

A band of vigilante executioners roam London's hot summer nights, abducting evil men and hanging them by the neck until dead.

Sentenced to death is the gang member who groomed and abused dozens of vulnerable girls; the wealthy drunk driver who mowed down a child; and the hate preacher calling for the murder of British troops.

As the bodies pile up and riots explode all over the sweltering city, DC Max Wolfe embarks on his most dangerous investigation yet, hunting a gang of killers who many believe to be heroes.

But before he can confront them, Max Wolfe learns some painful truths about the fragile line between good and evil, innocence and guilt, justice and retribution.

And discovers that the lust for revenge starts very close to home.

We get to know DC Max Wolfe and his daughter Scout (and dog Stan) quite well in their first outing, The Murder Bag. Max features strongly again of course, but we don’t see much of Scout – which saddened me a little because I think Parsons writes her innocent yet shrewd personality well.

As per the blurb, this book is very much about the fine line between between justice and vengeance; between right and wrong.

The ‘hanging club’ share their version of justice online with live recordings of their executions. And like the public hangings of the 1800-1900s, they’re only killing the baddies after all.

Again Max consults with his colleague at the Crime Museum and there’s a strong reliance on history and hidden messages and motivations in an attempt to get ahead of the club’s next outing.

And closer to home, Max runs into a childhood friend who’s now living on the streets. Max takes Jackson in and helps him get back on his feet. (Which – slightly bizarrely – he does remarkably easily!) Jackson is ex-military and struggles with Max’s adamance that vengeance and justice are two very different courses of action.

I enjoyed this latest in the series. I really like Max. Parsons is quoted as saying he writes ‘Man-Lit’ (as opposed to Chick-Lit). And he does it well. And I’ve mentioned I love¬†Scout – although Max’s personal life revolved more around his reconnection with Jackson and his ponderings on justice vs vengeance than his relationship with his daughter this time around.

In my reviews of The Murder Bag (and short story Dead Time) I mention that Parsons does a great job with his characters, but felt his lack of experience in crime fiction was evident. I think this element is getting much stronger and we’re offered up a pretty decent mystery to solve. (I wasn’t sure – for example – why the club targets Max!)

I look forward to more in this series.

The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons is available via Random House UK, Cornerstone from 19 May 2016.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.

Do you love a good police procedural? 

  • Stormi D Johnson
    May 18, 2016

    Sounds like a good series, I need to check out book one.

    • Debbish
      May 19, 2016

      I really loved the character development in the first book Stormi – I think Parsons did a great job with Max and Scout… plus there’s a bit of a twist re Scout’s mother and takes a long time to learn what happened and it’s well done.

  • Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    May 18, 2016

    This sounds good! I love the connection to the hangings in the past and just the fact that there is a crime museum in the book! I’m glad that you were able to read book 3 without feeling like you were missing a chunk of the story. I’m definitely adding this book and this series to my TBR.

    • Debbish
      May 19, 2016

      Parsons seems to include that historical element in each of his books (in the two I’ve read, so I assume the third is the same). In this one the ‘hanging club’ are leaving their victims near the site of the former ‘gallows’ and there’s some investigation into locations once used etc… (Also reference to the number of people hanged until the practice stopped in the late 1960s.)

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