The Hangman’s Song by James Oswald Book Review

Posted on July 29, 2014

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The Hangman's Song by James Oswald (front)

The Hangman’s Song by James Oswald (front) taken by Darren Greenidge from my copy


The third in the series of the Detective Inspector McLean crime series by James Oswald with a supernatural twist that started with Natural Causes starts off with quite literally a drop; well a hanging actually, hence the title The Hangman’s Song.

McLean comes in to the story whilst investigating a suspected prostitution and human trafficking ring. He’s still reeling from the events of the previous story in The Book of Souls and is trying to make sense of things and comes to terms with others when he is drawn to an apparent suicide by hanging.

His young protégé, DC Stuart McBride, calls McLean to help him out on the suicide but McBride suspects there is more to it as does McLean. Not long after another such hanging occurs and both their suspicions grow along with DS Kirsty Ritchie. DS Grumpy Bob Laird as ever is the stalwart who keeps the team together in his own way.

The team are not working together as such, having been torn apart by the Acting Superintendent Charles Duguid, a man who doesn’t seem to know his arse from his elbow but I have a sneaking suspicion he is cleverer than the others think for he takes their credit when cases are solved and gets promoted for it. That’s the way of the world though isn’t it sadly.

McLean and his broken team eventually investigate what is to all intents and purposes two suicides and seem to be going nowhere until a third hanging swings their way. McLean juggles two cases and has to deal with personal things going on in his life and at home, the pressure all around him, threatening to crush him, but McLean is a tough sort and battles on until a nail-biting ending that is.

He has support all around him including a rather bizarre transvestite clairvoyant and antique book dealer and collector named Madame Rose who should have his/her own book after being in all three so far. The character is so intriguing that I feel there is more to him/her than meets the eye so to speak.

The story rattles along like an old roller-coaster that has twists and turns at every corner and you’re sure that you are going to come off as you hold your breath from one chapter to another.

Do yourself a favour and start these books from the beginning and catch up before James Oswald is on his tenth in the series the way he is pushing them out at the moment. They are fantastic, the chapters short with a hook at the end of them all and a few with a hook at the beginning too. I have been reading them for a couple of months now and am on the fourth in the series Dead Men’s Bones, about a hundred pages in already. I’m already wondering what’s in store for our hero McLean and his loyal team in the fifth of the series. I’m hoping it’s before the year is out but we shall see.

The Hangman's Song by James Oswald (back cover)

The Hangman’s Song by James Oswald (back cover) taken by me from my own copy


Once again I can see this as a television series but I think it would be best once ten or twelve are written before this happens so James can tell the stories he wants to tell, not what others may write with his characters, unless of course he does the scripts? I’m getting ahead of myself here but I just love them.

It’s an aspiring writers dream to get published, an author’s to get a series of books successful like the McLean novels so anything like a television series based on your work would be amazing indeed. Edinburgh is without a TV detective at the moment so it would be good if McLean could be one of those in a couple of years or so.

Right, that’s me done. As usual, please buy from your local bookshops if possible or any shop that does books in your area. They need our support at the moment. Do this before online purchases if possible. That’s my soapbox bit done. I’m off now to read some more of Dead Men’s Bones when I should be writing myself if I ever hope to get myself ‘out there’.

Remember to check out James’s website or the Penguin one for his work in crime and fantasy.

I’ll be reviewing Book four in a week or two so stay tuned as they say whoever they are?

Thanks for dropping by and enjoy.

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Posted in: Books, Entertainment