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Hangman    by Stephan Talty order for
by Stephan Talty
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Hangman follows Black Irish as the second in Stephan Talty's noir thriller series starring maverick homicide detective Absalom 'Abbie' Kearney in Buffalo, New York. Abbie carries job commitment to extremes. In the first episode, this led to the death of the adoptive father she worshipped, her arrest for murder, and the discovery that she had a brother who had done terrible things.

Hangman opens on the transportation of a particularly nasty serial killer to a ­maximum-security prison. Brain-damaged by a headshot before he was arrested, Marcus Flynn, dubbed the Hangman, had terrorized Buffalo, killing three teenage girls (with another, his cousin Sandy Riesen whose body was never found). A prison guard secretly attempts to question Flynn, who escapes.

Chief Albert Perelli has had his problems with Abbie, but respects her talent and tenacity. He tasks her with looking through all the evidence on the original case to try to figure out where the killer 'might be headed, who he wants to see.' But some evidence has gone missing. She interviews the prison psychiatrist, who informs her that Flynn had seemed to be regaining some of his lost memories.

Meanwhile, despite parents keeping their teen daughters at home, the Hangman manages to entice one out and to kill again. The city is in an uproar and the pressure is heightened. Abby is partnered with Billy Raymond. Desperate to solve the case, she does something she'd resolved never to do; she asks for help from the Network, a group of corrupt cops and ex-cops who can demand favors (under the legal radar) and have tentacles all over the city.

Clues (those that make sense and especially the outliers that don't) lead Abby to Hoyt Lake, which rumor says holds the bones of 'the disposable women of Buffalo's boom.' And another girl is taken. Can Abby save her and, if so, at what cost to herself? This thriller is highly recommended, though it's probably best to read Black Irish first, to understand Abby's relationship with her cop boyfriend Mills and her angst about using the Network.

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