Review: Hangman (Detective William Fawkes #2) by Daniel Cole

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

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.

Ragdoll was my favorite book of 2017 and I have been anxiously waiting for the follow-up ever since. Though the American release date is not for a couple more months, I won a giveaway for a book of my choice and was very excited to see I could get a UK edition of Hangman. While it didn’t quite live up to all my expectations, it was a well-written, engrossing mystery.

I’m going to get what I didn’t like about it out of the way first. You know how some people say “religion in a book ruins it for me”? Well, I am kind of the opposite. A strong Anti-God theme and mocking religion can ruin it for me. The book basically starts out with a character saying there is no God and it really just started me off on the wrong foot with the story. Any mention of God or religion throughout the book was condemning and I found it kind of offensive. While I wouldn’t say the atheism was a strong theme throughout the plot or anything, it was kind of brought up several times and I have to say it diminished my enjoyment a bit.

I thought the overall mystery was well-done. It was methodical and intriguing and suspenseful. Cole did a good job of making the atmosphere very tense and – at times – creepy. There was still some of the dark humor I appreciated from Ragdoll, but I didn’t think it was as funny as the first book.

After the events of Ragdoll unfolded, I really didn’t know how this William Fawkes series could continue. Hangman shifts focus to really shine the light on Baxter. I kind of hated Baxter in the first book and I have to say I don’t really like her any better here. She is smart and determined, but she’s deeply paranoid, self-centered, and abrasive. She is an interesting character, but it was kind of hard to care about her. Thankfully, my dear, sweet Edmunds was back, too. I absolutely adored him in the first book and continued to in this one. I also really enjoyed the introduction of CIA Agent Rouche. He was quirky and sad and I kind of loved him.

Overall, I did enjoy Hangman. I really like Cole’s writing and how he can mix humor in with such dark subjects. I liked the mystery and most of the characters. While I was offended by the mocking of religious beliefs and it did lessen my enjoyment a bit, it didn’t all out ruin the book for me. The very ending really has me looking forward to what will happen next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2018

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Moonshot by Alessandra Torre. Read March 30-31. (Yes this was in March, but my Reviewing the Unreviewed: March posted before I finished this). 3.5 Stars. 

Short chapters for the win! I really liked how this book was written. I liked how it was told mostly through Ty’s 1st person, but occasionally shifted to Chase and also some other little snippets. I loved that the chapters were so short. It made reading this kind of lengthy book not seem long at all. I did start out liking Ty and Chase, even though the age difference was a bit uncomfortable. She was 17 when they first met, but turned 18 not too soon after and he was 5 years older. However, as the book goes on there is So. Much. Cheating. It really took my enjoyment of the book way down. I liked that there was kind of a twist in who the murderer was, but the reasoning behind it I didn’t feel made much sense. Overall, I enjoyed the writing and did mostly like the characters, but I dropped my rating down from 4 stars because there is never an excuse for cheating.

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Awaken: 90Days with the God Who Speaks by Priscilla Shirer. Read January 1-March 31. (Yes this was in March, but my Reviewing the Unreviewed: March posted before I finished this). 4 Stars. 

There are a lot of things I decide to do on January 1st that I give up on later that month. Thankfully, that didn’t happen with this devotional. I committed to reading it daily and I actually did it. My spiritual life and relationship with God has been lacking a lot over the last couple of years and I feel this book definitely helped. I still have a long ways to go, but I feel on the right track. As for the book itself, I thought it started out a little run-of-the-mill, but as we got further into it, I found the lessons went a little deeper and I learned more. I would definitely check out other books by Priscilla Shirer.

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Co-Wrecker (Binghamton #1) by Meghan Quinn. Read March 25-April 1. 3 Stars. 

I always think Meghan Quinn books sound funny, but wasn’t sure they would be for me since they also sounded pretty sex-centered. Having finally read one, I think I can safely say that I won’t be reading any more from her. While I thought the story was ok and did kind of like the characters, there was way too much graphic content for me to be able to take the book seriously. I also thought Andrew started out so awkward and sweet and quickly turned into someone really crude and was kind of hard to like at times because of it. I almost DNF-ed the book a couple of times, but I was far enough into it that I figured I might as well finish it. So why is this getting 3 stars? I’m giving it an extra star because it did make me LOL several times.

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Infinity + One by Amy Harmon Read April 1-3. 4 Stars. 

Amy Harmon always writes such beautiful books, but I think she needs to work on the blurbs. For some reason, I never think that any of her books sound good, based on the synopsis, but I’ve really liked everything I’ve read by her and this was no exception. I loved the characters and the romance and the writing. It did drag a little bit towards the middle, but for the most part the character development made up for the slower pace. I also got a little frustrated with Bonnie’s refusal to be responsible and have a conversation with anyone (namely the authorities) about the legal issues. I felt it was really selfish, especially considering Finn’s past, when the whole thing could have been cleared up so easily. Other than those couple of things I really enjoyed this one and definitely recommend it.

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. Read April 5-8. 3 Stars. 

I thought this started and ended well, but dragged a lot in the middle. I was underwhelmed with the underwater scenes and description (in one there’s talk about wiping away someone’s tears and I just don’t understand how that could happen underwater…). I kind of liked how awful both of the main characters could be. This was not nearly as romance heavy as I thought it would be, so it was kind of a nice change of pace from most of the YA Fantasy I’ve read. I liked it enough that I would probably check out more from this author, but I don’t think this is one that I would want to re-read.

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The Dreamer (Dreamland #1) by E.J. Mellow. Read April 8-9. 3 Stars. 

I think if I had read this a couple years ago I probably would’ve really liked it, but I think now my tastes have kind of changed and I have a little higher standards, so I thought this was good, but not great. I thought it took too long for things to get explained and when they were, they were still kind of confusing. It’s kind of a different love triangle that the norm, but I still didn’t care for it. The characters were ok, but I never fell in love with any of them. I am interested to see what happens, so I’m going to try to get to the other books before my Kindle Unlimited subscription is cancelled.

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The Dreamcatcher (Dreamland #1.5) by E.J. Mellow. Read April 10. 3 Stars. 

This didn’t really give me much more insight into Dev or his world than I got from the first book. It wasn’t bad, though.

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Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman. Read April 12-14. 3.5 Stars. 

This was pretty cute. I liked how Snow was the one doing the saving/protecting, even if I thought hiring a teenage girl to be a bodyguard was a little unbelievable. I liked Snow and Ash and their relationship. I thought the rest of the characters were a little underdeveloped, though. And just like in Adorkable, the best friend character brought the story down a bit. Min-Lee was supportive of Snow for the most part, but I thought her not only staying friends with the mean girl that constantly made fun of Snow, but insisting Snow hang out with her as well was pretty awful friend behavior.

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Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon. Read April 14-15. 4 Stars. 

Since this was Amy Harmon’s first book, I kind of expected it not to be as good as all of her others. Of course I was wrong. It was beautiful and emotional and thought-provoking and I loved it. I loved the characters and all they went through. Even though it starts out with an uncomfortable age difference, there weren’t any lines crossed. I also love the way that Harmon can weave faith into the story so effortlessly that even people who often say “religion ruins a book” for them don’t mind it.

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Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin. Read April 15-18. 2 Stars. 

It pains me to say this, but I found Paper Ghosts to be a big waste of time. Full review to come next month.

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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier. Read April 20-21. 4 Stars. 

Wow. I hardly know where to even begin with this. Jar of Hearts is the kind of book that you’re almost afraid to say you enjoyed because of how dark and twisted it is. But it’s one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. Full review to come next month.

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My Sister’s Intended (Serendipity #1) by Rachael Anderson. Read April 19-22. 3 Stars. 

A sweet and clean romance. Though the characters were likable, I had a little bit of trouble becoming invested in the story and almost decided to DNF it. I’m glad I decided to finish it, though, since the last couple chapters were pretty enjoyable. I also really love the cover of this one.

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I Wanna Text You Up by Teagan Hunter. Read April 23-24. 3.5 Stars. 

While I liked Let’s Get Textual a little better, I enjoyed this one, as well. I really didn’t care for Zoe in the previous book, so I was a little hesitant going into this one, but she did eventually grow on me. I liked Caleb, as well. I didn’t like that they were into each other so immediately. I wish there was a little more build up – especially since Caleb is the ex-boyfriend of Zoe’s best friend. (Speaking of best friend, I loved that we got to see a little more of Zach and Delia! I would’ve loved even more of them.) Overall, this was a fun and quick read and I might need to check out more from this author.

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Hangman (Detective William Fawkes #2) by Daniel Cole. Read April 25-28. 4 Stars. 

Ragdoll was my favorite book of 2017 and I have been anxiously waiting for the follow-up ever since. Though the American release date is not for a couple more months, I won a giveaway for a book of my choice and was very excited to see I could get a UK edition of Hangman. While it didn’t quite live up to all my expectations, it was a well-written, engrossing mystery. Full review to come.

My Blog’s Name in Books

I saw this tag over on Fictionophile not too long ago and thought it looked fun. The basic rules are to use your current TBR list (no cheating!) to spell out your blog’s name. This might take awhile, folks.

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

E

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Exposed (Rosato & DiNunzio #5) by Lisa Scottoline

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Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

H

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Hangman (Detective Williams Fawkes #2) by Daniel Cole

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

I

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It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

E

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The Echo Killing (Harper McClain #1) by Christi Daugherty

‘S

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Silent Scream (D. I. Kim Stone # 1) by Angela Marsons

B

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Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

O

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One Small Thing by Erin Watt

O

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Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

K

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

R

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Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep #0.5) by Mira Grant

E

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Each Little Lie by Tom Bale

V

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Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong

I

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It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

E

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The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanen

W

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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Still Me (Me Before You #3) by Jojo Moyes

Do we have similar books on our TBRs? Did you find anything you wanted to add to yours?

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to play.

Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

This week on Good Reads is Mystery and Thriller Week, so I thought I’d celebrate by sharing some of my favorite books from the genre (links go to my reviews).

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Sharon Bolton is one of my very favorite authors and all of her books I’ve read have been great, but my two favorite books by her (and just favorites in general) are Daisy in Chains and Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1).

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The Imogen Grey series by Katerina Diamond is fantastic. Be forewarned that they are pretty dark, but they are so worth it!

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Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes #1) by Daniel Cole. This book completely lived up to the hype and I am dying for the next in the series.

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Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. A different take on the serial-killer novel, smartly written, and just look at that cover!

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen totally lived up to the hype for me. I thought I had it all figured out, but that twist completely got me.

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Lies She Told by Cate Holahan. The story within a story really worked for me and I loved this.

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I would be remiss to have a list about my favorite mysteries without including a book by one of my favorite authors, Linwood Barclay. I really enjoy his Promise Falls books and The Twenty-Three really stood out for the panic-inducing atmosphere the book starts out with.

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Another favorite author I need to mention is Karin Slaughter. I really love her Will Trent series, as well as her standalone titles.

Ok, I’m going to stop myself here because I could go on and on with this topic. If you want to find some more great mystery titles, I am going to refer you to my favorite Mystery blogger: Annie @ TheMisstery. Several of the books I mentioned above I discovered because of her. I feel like almost every blog post she writes results in me adding another book to my TBR.

And lastly, I’m going to leave you with this fun little game that is over on Good Reads. What is the name of your mystery novel? Mine is The Stalker on Flight 42

What are some of your favorite mysteries and thrillers? What was the title of your mystery novel?

Review: Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes #1) by Daniel Cole

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

I read a couple of outstanding reviews for Ragdoll that gave me very high expectations and I am very happy to say that the book definitely lived up to them! I loved pretty much every second of reading this book.

The concept was definitely interesting and twisted. A corpse comprised of body parts from six different people is found. Then a letter is delivered with a list of six more future victims – and the date on which they will die. It was really fascinating to watch the case unfold and figure out who the body parts belonged to and how they all connect to each other and to the possible future victims. They reason behind it all was a great development, too.

I loved the characters. They weren’t always lovable, sometimes they were more love-to-hate, but I enjoyed reading about all of them. William Oliver Layton-Fawkes (Wolf) was such a wonderfully complicated character. I loved his determination and stubbornness and his sense of humor. Baxter was mostly of the love-to-hate variety for me, but she was also kind of complicated and interesting. I loved, loved, loved Edmunds! He was really smart and kind and had a bit of the wide-eyed innocent thing going on so it was even more interesting to see how he evolves as the case goes on. I adored him.

I thought the writing was really great, too. I was surprised this is Cole’s debut book. The writing is smart and surprising and it did not rely on big twists for shock value (nothing against big twists – I love them – but it’s nice to see a mystery not have to need them). It had a few smaller, clever twists and turns, but none of them felt out of left field. There was also a lot of humor in this book that I was not expecting at all. I felt like it was a little more prominent in the beginning of the book than the end, but it was kind of wry and irreverent and I loved it.

Overall, I just loved Ragdoll. I loved the story, characters, and writing. The only thing that I didn’t love quite as much as the rest of it was the ending. I would have liked an epilogue. However, this is going to be a series so I can forgive it for not having one. It ended in such a way that I have no idea how the next book will go, but I can’t wait to find out! Daniel Cole has definitely made his way on to my favorite authors list and I really recommend this to mystery lovers.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars