Hangman by Daniel Cole

Hangman (Fawkes and Baxter #2) Published: July 24th, 2018

Publisher: Ecco

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 373

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Buy: Amazon 

Rating: 4/5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

How do you catch a killer who’s already dead?

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.


 

Note: So this has been sitting in my draft folder since I finished the book in September. Nice job Stephanie, nice job. 

Hangman by Daniel Cole is the follow-up to Ragdoll and takes place 18 months after the bizarre series of murders. I like to keep my reviews simple and without to many details as to avoid spoilers. However, to be safe, if you have not read the first book then skip ahead or better yet, just put off reading this review until you have.

This book takes place in London and New York as a pattern begins to emerge between gruesome murders happening in both cities.

Baxter is asked to travel to NYC to help the FBI and NYPD track down the person responsible for the murders which leave behind bodies scarred with the words “PUPPET” and “BAIT”. She is teamed up with Rouche and Curtis from the FBI and they struggle to work together as a team and to get any closer to answers. After a catastrophic failure to prevent an attack that makes the body count jump to a staggering amount, Baxter returns to London to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen there.

The pacing of this book was much slower than the first and gave off less ‘Seven’ vibes that I had loved so much, but I still enjoyed it. It’s another compelling read for those of us who enjoy things more twisted and don’t mind bodies piling up. I still don’t love Baxter but I really love her friendship with Edmunds! Edmunds is my favorite character and would love to see book three follow him as a lead detective, if he ever gets the balls to quit Fraud and return to homicide…he’s brilliant and fascinating.

Speaking of book three, I was quite pleased to find out that Daniel Cole is working on a third book! I’m really looking forward to see where Cole takes the characters next. Who brings back, who he doesn’t…I can’t wait!

Thank you again to Ecco books for sending me a copy of this book! I truly appreciate it and can’t wait to see what Cole delivers next.

Happy Reading!

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Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Ragdoll (Fawkes and Baxter, #1)Published: April 4th, 2017

Publisher: Ecco

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 374

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Buy: Amazon | Book Outlet

Rating: 4.5/5

One body. Six Victims.

William Fawkes, a controversial detective known as The Wolf, has just been reinstated to his post after months of psychological assessment following allegations of a shocking assault. A veteran of the force, Fawkes thinks he’s seen it all. That is, until his former partner and friend, Detective Emily Baxter, calls him to a crime scene and leads him to a career-defining cadaver: the dismembered parts of six victims sewn together like  a puppet –  a corpse that becomes known in the press as the “ragdoll”.

Fawkes is tasked with identifying the six victims, but that gets dicey when his reporter ex-wife anonymously receives photographs from the crime scene, along with a list of six names, and the dates on which the Ragdoll Killer plans to murder them. The final name on the list is Fawkes. Baxter and her trainee partner, Alex Edmunds, hone in on figuring out what links the victims together before the killer strikes again. 

But for Fawkes, seeing his name on the list sparks a dark memory, and he fears that the catalyst for these killings has more to do with him – and his past – than anyone realizes. 


Have you ever watched the movie Se7en by David Fincher? It features Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as the two detectives and Kevin Spacey played the psycho mastermind behind the seven deadly sin killings? Anyway, it’s one of my favorite movies and Ragdoll by Daniel Cole draws a lot of parallels to it in such an awesome way.

Detective William Fawkes is recently brought back onto the force after almost losing everything after he knocked out a high-profile suspect at the end of his trial when he was found ‘not-guilty’. The case nearly destroyed him and he served time in a psych ward only to be release when that same ‘innocent’ suspect killed again and Fawkes was vindicated.

Fawkes and his former partner Baxter are called onto the scene of a most gruesome crime – a body comprised of sewn together body parts hanging from the ceiling. The head belonging to the same man that Fawkes leveled in the courtroom.

To add icing to the cake, Fawkes’ TV journalist ex-wife gets involved when she receives a package containing photographs of the body and a list of the next victims, which includes Fawkes himself.

Phew this book. So much drama and craziness, it really is a thrilling ride! There’s also this strange sexual tension between Baxter and Fawkes that leaves you wondering if you should be routing for the two of them or not. Even his ex-wife believed the two were having an affair which played a big part in the falling apart of their marriage. Generally I don’t find that there’s room for romantic relationships in books like these but Cole does it really well (it’s subtle) and to me, it really helps you get to know the characters. They feel more human.

So there’s this personal drama that sort of unfolds between the lines of the gruesome Ragdoll case, which begins to play out like a bad reality show thanks to the ex-wife who uses it to leverage her career. It’s a race against the clock, and the media, for the team to figure out how these victims are connected and track down the killer before Fawkes becomes the final victim.

Oh and that ending! Wow!

This book is fast-paced, full of great characters and even some British dark humor for good mix. I really enjoyed this book and rated it a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I can’t wait to start reading the second book in the Fawkes and Baxter series which supposedly picks up right where Ragdoll leaves off.

Happy Reading!

 

The Body Counter by Anne Frasier

The Body Counter (Detective Jude Fontaine Mysteries, #2)Published: June 12, 2018

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Format: Kindle Edition

Pages: 297

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 4/5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Months after discovering the mastermind behind her own kidnapping, Detective Jude Fontaine is dealing with the past the only way she knows how: by returning to every dark corner of it. But it’s a new, escalating series of mass slaying that has become her latest obsession at Homicide.

At first, Jude and her partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, can see no pattern to the seemingly random methods, the crime scenes, or the victims – until they’re approached by a brilliantly compulsive math professor. He believes that the madman’s next move is not incalculable; in fact, it’s all part of a sequential and ingenious numerical riddle. His theory is adding up. The body count is rising.

But when the latest victim is found in Jude’s apartment, the puzzle comes with a personal twist that’s going to test the breaking point of her already-fragile state of mind. For all she knows, her number may be up.


I really love the Jude Fontaine series!

These are fast past, gritty, dark, solid mysteries and I highly recommend them if you want a quick thriller that sucks you in and takes you for a ride. But make sure you read The Body Reader first before you even think of touching this one. Our lead Detective won’t make as much sense if you don’t, I can assure you.

Jude and her partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, are damaged and broken: Jude is still trying to figure out how to live a normal life after being held captive in a basement for three years and Uriah is dealing with the guilt and torment of his late wife’s suicide. Together, their partnership just works and they’ve now been assigned to a series of gruesome murders that they soon begin to realize, hold a disturbing pattern.

There are no clues and no rhyme or reason for the killings. They have nothing until a seemingly nutty math professor comes to them with an idea: he believes the killer is following the Fibonacci Series, a series of number in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers i.e. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5…

This book doesn’t pack as much of an emotional punch as the first book did, but it still delivers in suspenseful twists and thrills which is what we all really come for when we sit down with a good thriller right?

We do get more of the relationship between Jude and Uriah and how they work together. Their relationship is fragile but both depend on the other in way that has me really routing for the two of them.

The murders are much more grisly and disturbing and I was so hooked on it. A long slow clap for Ms Frasier because I just enjoyed this plot so much.

I can’t wait to see what Frasier comes out with next in this series – she’s definitely one of my top ‘must read’ authors and this series has easily become one of my favorites!

 

Upcoming Releases | June – October 2018

 

My TBR is longer than I know what to do with (which is an excellent problem to have in my opinion), but here’s a look at some upcoming releases that I’m really excited about! Now if I can just get Mo Hayder and Paul Clave to release something new, I’d be the happiest little reader on the planet!

The Cabin at the End of the WorldExpected Release Date: June 26th, 2018 (ahem, TOMORROW!)

Publisher: William Morrow

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 288

Genre: Horror

“Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

I’m pretty sure that right there is a sure sign that something terrible is going to happen you guys. A cabin in the woods with no one around? Classic horror.

Your dads won’t let us in, Wen. But they have to. Tell them they have to. We are not here to hurt you. We need your help to save the world.”

Somebody's DaughterExpected Release Date: July 10th, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 432

Genre: Thriller

When Michael Frazier’s ex-wife, Erica, unexpectedly shows up on his doorstep, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: Her ten-year-old daughter is missing – and Michael is the father.

Over the course of one night, lies that span a decade come bubbling to the surface, putting Michael, his wife, and his whole family in jeopardy. And as the window for a little girl’s safe return closes, Michael will have to decide who can be trusted and how is hiding the truth…

I just started reading the ARC of this and I’m really enjoying it so far. David Bell is a new-to-me author so I’m not very familiar with his other novels however I do love a good gut-wrenching suspense novel!

Pieces of HerExpected Release Date: August 21st, 2018

Publisher: Harper Collins

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 480

Genre: Thriller

What if the person you though you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all…?”

“Pieces of Her” follows Andrea Cooper and her mother, Laura. Andrea thinks she knows everything there is to know about her mother. But after a trip to the mall ends with violence, Andrea realizes that there is a completely different side to her mother. Because it turns out her mother wasn’t always Laura and for nearly thirty years, she’s been hiding from her previous life hoping that her past won’t find her. Now that it has, the police want answers and Laura won’t speak to anyone, even her own daughter Andrea.

I’m a big fan of Slaughter’s work, especially the darker novels because my soul itself is a little dark. I’m really looking forward to this new standalone novel even though I keep hearing it’s not a typical ‘Slaughter novel’. My guess is it’s a slight departure from the darkness but because I really love her writing style, it’s bound to be awesome.

The CraftsmanExpected Release Date: October 16th, 2018

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 432

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Grassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago in a small village in Lancashire. Like something out of a nightmare, the victims were buried alive in. Florence was able to solve the mystery and get a confession out of Larry before more children were murdered.

But now, decades later, he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Is someone copying the original murders? Or did she it wrong all those years ago? When her own son goes missing under similar circumstances, the case not only gets reopened…it gets personal.

You guys, I LOVE Sharon Bolton and this sounds like one of her creepiest novels yet!!  I am so excited about this release I can’t even begin to tell you! Whoever got there hands on advance copy of this, I’m so jealous!

The Witch Elm

Expected Release Date: October 9th, 2018

Publisher: Viking

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 528

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

I’ve read all of Tana French’s books, most I’ve really enjoyed and others I didn’t like as much but regardless, I never fail to miss one! She writes beautifully – the prose, the characters and ingenious plots, she always finds a way to surprise you. Really looking forward to this one!

So there you have it! Some great new releases coming out this summer and fall be sure to have star status at the top of my TBR pile.

Any new releases you’re looking forward to?

 

 

 

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

Paper GhostsReleased: May 15th, 2018

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Length: 368

Buy: Amazon

Format: Kindle

Genre: Myster & Thriller, Fiction

Rating 7/10

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life – since she was twelve years old – for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.

Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer who may or may not have dementia – and may or may not be a serial killer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.

Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.

I have to start by saying that this totally wasn’t planned, that my first post back into the book blogging world would be by the same author as my last post back in July of 2015! Total coincidence.

Julia Heaberlin’s new novel, Paper Ghosts, is such a unique and captivating tale. Throughout the book I found myself questioning not only Carl and his motives (his he lying or is he really losing his mind), but of the woman whose taken him; because let’s be honest, who in their right mind would think it’s a great idea to take a killer on a road trip, albeit an aging one? She has trained for this moment since she was twelve years old, an obsession so deep that it is all she knows about herself. What happens if she’s not right? Scarier yet, what will happen if she is?

I wouldn’t classify this as your typical serial-killer novel but instead a psychological game of cat and mouse. It’s a slow build, written beautifully with an eerie-edge. A mystery that makes you question everything you think is happening at every turn of the page.

I enjoyed this book more so than I did Black-Eyed Susans and if you’re looking for an emotional and clever mystery, than I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of Paper Ghosts. The ending was clean and poignant and I felt happy with the conclusion. Like a perfect little present. I look forward to seeing what Heaberlin has up her sleeve next!

 

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

23746004Expected Release: August 11th, 2015

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Length: 368

Pre-Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Format: Kindle

Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

Rating 6/10

 I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought.

Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.

Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter’s safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it’s too late?


Julia Heaberlin is a new author to me but I have to say that I really enjoyed her new upcoming thriller, Black-Eyed Susans.

Tessa is the victim of a serial-killer, left for dead on a pile of bones and bodies, who manages to send her monster to jail where he’s waiting for the death penalty. Now, years later, she is haunted by her past, the “Susans”, and desperate to keep her teenage daughter, Charlie, safe.

She has never been able to recall the details of her ordeal and as the execution date of her monster draws near, she’s beginning to have doubts. Has she let the wrong man go to jail?

The narrative switches between the past and present as Tessa relives her experience, therapy, the trial, and interactions with her best friend, Lydia, who hasn’t been seen since the trial ended.

The beginning was a little slow for me and I didn’t really become engaged in the story until a quarter of the way through. It was even a bit confusing in the beginning which I attribute to having to adjust to the narrative style and the constant flip-flopping between the past and present. It was a bit distracting, but eventually I was able to get into the flow of it.

I also felt that there was a huge emphasis on the court proceedings/death penalty process and less on some of the really key moments, like the explanation of ‘what really happened’ to Tessa, so that was bit of a letdown for me. Though I can appreciate the care and research that went into making those trial moments ‘real’.

I was intrigued by Lydia’s character and wanted more of her. Think manipulative, dark and very secretive. Tessa’s daughter, Charlie, and her eccentric neighbor, Effie, were likeable characters that I felt really grounded the story. And for a teenager, Charlie handles getting dragged into her mom’s crazy world like a champ!

Overall, though, I did enjoy this book and would recommend it to a friend. There were great twists and revelations that made it truly enjoyable in the end! It might even be worth a second read to see if there were things I didn’t pick up on before.

Definitely worth adding to your “to-read” list.