Hangman: To say this was not what I expected would be an understatement

Hangman book review

What is this about?: Timothy Blake is like no man you’ve met before. He is ruthless in his pursuit of what he needs, and he will do whatever it takes – including working with the FBI to catch criminals. So what does he want?

Well read on, but be warned there are spoilers



A 14-year-old boy vanishes on his way home from school. His frantic mother receives a disturbing ransom call. It’s only hours before the deadline, and the police have no leads.

Enter Timothy Blake, codename Hangman. Blake is a genius, known for solving impossible cases. He’s also a sociopath – the FBI’s last resort.

But this time Blake might have met his match. The kidnapper is more cunning and ruthless than anyone he’s faced before. And Blake has been assigned a new partner, a woman linked to the past he’s so desperate to forget.

Timothy Blake has a secret, one so dark he will do anything to keep it hidden.

And he also has a price. Every time he saves a life, he takes one…

Already sold into five territories, Hangman is a mesmerising dissection of the criminal mind and a bulletproof thriller.

‘Jack Heath’s Hangman is a perverse, twisted take on a crime novel—and I loved every page of it. What a rarity to find a thriller as dark as a Palahniuk and as compulsively readable as a Patterson. Two well-chewed thumbs up for Hangman.’ —Gregg Hurwitz, NYT-Bestselling author of Hellbent

‘Jack Heath’s writing grabs you by the throat, gnaws on your bones, and washes it all down with a hefty dose of funny. Sick, twisted, violent, and oh so good. In Timothy Blake, Heath has created a one-of-a-kind character. I hope.’ —Emma Viskic, internationally bestselling author of And Fire Came Down

‘Wild and original, HANGMAN stamps a high and bloodied mark on this dark genre. Hannibal Lecter will be adding Jack Heath to his reading list.’ —Ben Sanders, internationally bestselling author of American Blood

Stars: 3.5. Maybe 4.

So. Timothy is a cannibal.

Let’s get that out of the way right up at the beginning.

He has been caught by his boss Luzhin, who has taken his particular intelligence and cravings and made it work for him solving the unsolvable for the FBI.

Death Row is veritable smorgasboard for him, and Luzhin makes that happen.

So that would be the crux of the story underpinning everything Timothy does and wants in the book.

Right, so let me start at the beginning.

Timothy is called in on the investigation of a kidnapping because no one has any idea what happened to the kid – that’s the sort of last resort he is. And the thing is, he’s good at it – he is observant, intelligent and logical, noting things that others, even FBI agents, won’t. He also has an incentive to go hard and be ruthless in his investigations considering what getting results and solving cases gets him. This time around he is saddled with a new partner, who becomes more relevant as the book delves into his past, into how he came to this point in time – working for the FBI to get, well, humans.

I don’t really know how else to phrase this.

Inbetween the kidnapping case, we learn more about Timothy’s “normal” everyday life, and a roommate that is a junkie and who gets him involved in something else entirely in the book, and Timothy finds his secret in danger from unexpected quarters.

The thing about  Timothy is how utterly normal he is otherwise. I mean, he is a sociopath and a cannibal, but there’s a normality to parts of him that was shocking in how… normal it was – especially in his interactions with Thistle, his new partner in the book, and his reminiscing about his past. He could be any FBI/PI character out to solve a kidnapping, and unwittingly finding himself caught up in something bigger entirely.

So, kidnapping – absolutely did not go down like I expected it to. Heath gives readers and Timothy some marvellous red herrings, which highlight Timothy’s skill as he moves from one red herring to the next, seeing past them, and working to get the kidnapper and his “reward”. His day job, by the way, is to solve unsolvable puzzles that people send him in answer to an ad.

While some books in a series are meant to set the scene for the stories that follow, Hangman is a launching pad, but always with the same “reward” in mind for Timothy (look, I could have made some horrible pun about him getting “dinner” but I refrained).

That’s the sort of book this is – I’m half in disbelief that this book is about cannibal, who passes for normal quite well, and the half of me thoroughly enjoyed the story, and the different tendrils that Heath brings together in the end and sets Timothy on an entirely different and unexpected path.


  • A cannibal, huh? That’s actually really kind of intriguing. LOL I do want to read this one, and I’m glad you liked it overall.


  • WOW, this book sound amazing. A little creepy with the cannibalism. I have to get a copy of this one. Great review!


  • Wow, Timothy sounds very Hannibal Lecter meets Will Graham from Hannibal. In a good way, I think? I admit I’m creeped out and intrigued. The fact that the kidnapping played out so unexpectedly is another point in its favour!

    • Verushka says:

      Will graham! I’d forgotten about Hannibal!! It’s an apt comparison I think — though I freely admit to not managing more than one season of the show. This is a genuinely creepy read. I was waiting for Timothy to eat someone as much as I was waiting for him to save the kid.

  • Daniela Ark says:

    omg I read very disturbing stories. Murdering, rape, violence, abuse. etc but cannibalism is the one thing I cannot stomach. Not sure why 🙁

    • Verushka says:

      I was right there with you for a bit, Daniela. But it’s used very delicately, shall we say — it’s revealed blatantly at one point and from then on, it’s all about Timothy voicing how he feels about it in different situations —> this is me trying not to spoil everything 🙂 The author is very good at having it simmering in the background due to action and decisions in the book.

  • Kelly says:

    Ohhhhh oh hell no. I couldn’t. I’ve seen survival movies with cannibalism, even books. I watch The Walking Dead where Walkers eat the faces off of humans but I feel like this is the line I draw here. I’m wondering if it was really necessary to include that shock factor in what’s an already distressing storyline though. Without that aspect, I probably could have gotten on board with this one but it’s making me queasy already. Incredible review nonetheless darling <3 <3

    • Verushka says:

      Totally understand. When it was revealed, pretty blatantly, I kept reading just out of sheer fascination that the author went there, while trying very hard not to close the book and just forget it’s only my shelf. But the thing is, the author kept it simmering in the background, with loaded dialogue and situations where you’re half afraid something might happen, but it doesn’t. And it sucked me in. And I can’t even explain why !

  • Eep…canniablism in the modern world..creepy!

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