A fast paced crime novel which doesn’t lessen the action

Simon Kernick writes fast paced action crime novels which often read more like thrillers. What I hadn’t realised is that some of his books are in series where you really need to read the books in order as there is an overarching storyline. The Hanged Man is the second in a series featuring Ray Mason who is a police officer/detective with a reputation for not playing by the rules but getting results. You gather, as you read this book, what has happened in the first novel of the series but I expect that I missed a lot including why so many people appeared to mistrust him.

Mason is in a relationship with ex-police officer Tina Boyd who is now a private investigator. Tina Boyd also appears in The Final Minute which I read last year and I reviewed here. That book appears to be set much later than my more recent read and Mason doesn’t feature in it as far as I can remember. If I am going to read any more books by this author then I really need to read them in order as I am sure that that will help me understand the overall narrative.

The Hanged Man starts with an exciting scene as a man runs from the criminals with whom he has been associating and escapes the initial threat whilst still being pursued. It is fair to say that the pace doesn’t let up from then to the end. Mason is investigating this and also the discovery of some dead women which happened in the previous book. He follows the clues and includes his partner at work and also Tina Boyd who does some undercover investigating of her own. The clues lead to sex trafficking, money laundering and some very unpleasant major criminals. Mason isn’t afraid to use any tactic he can to discover the truth including threats and violence – his passion for finding out what has happened means that he rides roughshod over the rules of evidence and ends up having to hide his methods from his superiors and lie about how he found things out. The forces against Mason are great, especially when he is betrayed by a fellow officer, and, in the end, he has to decide what matters most, his career or stopping some pretty horrific crime. The book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger.

I found myself engaged by the storytelling of this book. I liked the fast paced action style of the writing and thought that the story was well put together. I found, however, that I didn’t like Mason a lot and that is because I am not a fan of the “ends justify the means” style of policing although the author does everything he can to emphasise the evil perpetrated by the criminals and the danger of allowing them to continue. Nevertheless, I would like to know what happens next …

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