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on 31 July 2014
Another very good read in the Inspector McLean series. Enjoyed Natural Causes and thought the Book of Souls was even better. This one just about kept to that standard, although for those who had not read the previous book, the references to Emma and the souls from the 'book' would have been confusing. I do understand those readers who would rather have their detective fiction without the supernatural background - but I find it quite refreshing - not least because it is not treading too much on the toes of Rankin's superb Rebus. I thought the stories linked in nicely and it was definitely a page-turner for me - even though I'd sussed out the identity of the 'person' behind the suicides early on. My only minor concern is the increasingly pantomime villain character of 'Dagwood'. I think James Oswald needs to start thinking how to develop this relationship with him and McLean, so by Book 21 they are still not arguing with each other over a desk or in front of senior colleague. Looking forward to Book 4 - to follow up some of the unresolved issues, and enjoy James Oswald's increasingly confident storytelling and flowing dialogue, which continues to develop favourably. I strongly recommend this series for crime fans who like a touch of 'supernatural' atmosphere hiding at the back - but read them in order and promptly after each other - to maintain the thread running thorough them.
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I've read all of James Oswald's novels and it's been an interesting experience following the development of Inspector Tony McLean from his debut, Natural Causes, through to The Hangman's Song, his third outing.

I like Inspector Mclean. He's seen more brutality than most men should but he's written with the constitution and tenacity of a bull dog - he doesn't give in and he never gives up. That's why he's so believable. The plot begins with McLean's involvement in a series of what appears to be random suicides. It's not long before he realises there's so much more to these sad deaths than it at first appears. McLean begins to see a pattern forming as surreal, odd, suice notes are found. Are the notes really just the final words of those about to depart the world or; are they hinting at something much darker?.

Oswald doesn't shy away from violence and as the plot builds to include themes of human trafficking and prostitution he doesn't hold back on the 'nasty' however; he has a talent for adding emotion by relating some of the sorrow and grief from McLean's past into the plot. McLean has loved and lost more than most and flashbacks to the trauma in his past run nicely alongside the heartbreak he's currently suffering as a result. Adds texture to a character who might otherwise have become too brittle and too tough to remain believable.

There's plenty of intrigue, gore and pace to move events along and The Hangman's Song has enough police procedure and darkly woven investigation to satisfy most readers of this genre. I'm happy to recommend The Hangman's Song to anyone looking for a drak, sharp crime thriller.
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on 15 July 2014
I really enjoyed this tale from a relatively new author in my eyeline, and from this story, I went straight on to reading the next in the series featuring Tony McLean. The storyline will have been told already in other reviews, so I just want to say that the pace of this book kept me turning the (virtual) page, and although I didn't want the story to end, I wanted the story to end so that I could dive straight into the next book. The writing is clever, and I felt the mix of crime and chiller married extremely well together. The only downside to both this and the next installment, is that I am still left with some unanswered questions regarding the more sinister side to these stories, but having said that, I get the impression that with each book we are being shown a little more of what lies behind the mystical curtain. I look forward to books 5 and 6, but am not looking forward to having to wait for publication, and personally, for me, that is the sign of a good story. Would and have recommended to others.
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Detective Inspector Tony McLean is new to me, I had not read any of the previous series. However,except for a few instances, this is a stand alone novel. The jest of the previous series is well shared and noted. DI McLean has a new boss, one who is not appreciative of McLean's charms and knowledge. Many of the cases that McLean solved have been taken by his boss as his. This leaves a bad taste, but then McLean is use to problems with his colleagues. Some of their sloppy work and lack of effort in cases drives McLean crazy. He does not have to work, his grandmother died and left him money and a very large house.

One of the first signs of McLean's humanity is when he is called to the hospital bedside of his latest love, Emma. Embarrassed has suffered great trauma, physical and mental, and had been in a coma. It seems she is now waking up, and things may change. Even though McLean is married to his job, he cares deeply for Emma and feels some responsibility for her trauma. Today, he has been part of an all night watch for an activity involving the sex trade. Instead of women being brought into Edinburgh, they fine women trying to leave. A confusing, mess, yes. Next he is called to the scene of a hanging. However, this hanging looks suspicious, and as time moves on, more hangings occur, and McLean is up to his ears again, in solving crimes.

This is a very fast paced, well written novel. I was convinced enough to order other novels from this series. DI McLean does not suffer fools, he is a no nonsense, detective, following the strict process of discovery of a crime, through the collection of evidence to the solving of the clues. I particularly enjoyed his thought processes which are part of the narrative of this novel. We know what he is thinking and where he stands. He suffers his boss, but only because he has no alternative. He does not suffer his colleagues, and within the first few chapters I knew which detective was not on the up and up. The inclusion of Emma and her story and needs, and the crimes that need to be solved give us a very satisfying book.

Recommended. prisrob 11-20-14
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on 2 April 2014
Crime isn't a genre I usually read but downloaded a copy of natural causes as it was free. Really enjoyed it and the book of souls. The hang mans song is another great crime story set in wonderful Edinburgh. The stories are really well written and the characters are all developing well. Tony Maclean has to investigate a suicide which is a little suspicious. This develops into a great wee page turner of a book. James Oswald is a fabulous writer
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on 5 September 2014
I have persevered with DI Maclean but it's a bit of a struggle at times. I know that James Oswald has borrowed Stuart Macbride's name but that's not the only thing that he has taken.- girlfriend in a coma, OTT senior officer, apartment destroyed, not to mention the use of 'haul' creeping in.the list goes on. I could cope with the supernatural elements woven into the plot but I found it offensive and unnecessary that every time Madame Rose was mentioned we had 'him ,her whatever'. I shall read the next one to see whether things improve but I'm not hopeful. There are elements of a good story but I found myself getting irritated by the padding. I think we've got the message that the young DC is shiny cheeked. We don't need telling every time he pops up. Come back Logan McRae.
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on 8 April 2014
The first two books in the series are an excellent mix of different genres which I found highly enjoyable and very compelling to read. Unfortunately, this third instalment I personally found to be repetitive and unengaging.

The repetition relates to the protagonists relationship with a particular work colleague and quickly becomes tedious. The supernatural aspects of the story which were my favourite parts of the previous two books are left frustratingly unexplored and poorly explained.

Overall, I very much hope the author returns to previous form as despite the disappointment of this book I would very much like to read further instalments.
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on 25 May 2016
I think that The Hangman's Song is the best book I have read so far in the Inspector McLean series. I do of course, like the previous books very much as well. However, there was something with this book that really appealed to me. I liked it so much that it only took a day for me to read it. McLean has, as usual, it not easy at work. He has a new boss that really hates him and that's always questioning him and just want cases close as soon as possible. So a suicide case is not McLean should be investigating, but he feels that something is not right and then more suicides occur and he has to find out what is connecting the suicides before more bodies are found.

As usual is there a paranormal part to the story and it's the paranormal part that makes the series so special to read and also a reason for me liking the series so much. Another reason is the humour. Despite the dark theme in the book are there many funny one-liners and dialogues in the book. This makes the book both thrilling and funny to read. A combination that I love.

I liked that Emma is back in the story so fast, especially when you think about what she went through in the last book. She has become a favourite character, although I do have a lot of favourite characters in the series. But, I do find that everything concerning Emma and what happened to her and how it has affected her is fascinating to read about. Also, I do like Emma and McLean together.

The Hangman's Song is a very good book, I wish I could read the next book right away, but I must wait for it to be translated into Swedish first. I recommend this series warmly to anyone that likes to read a different kind of crime novel.
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on 23 April 2014
Rather disappointed with this book and book 2 in the series in that I was able to discern the guilty party after reading about threequarters of each book something which has never ever happened to me in the vast array of Crime Writers I have over the years read.The descriptive repitition of some of the characters I found rather tiresome and if I hear anyone mention Edinburg's Tram system again I will scream.The storyline to me was very thin and after coming off the back of reading Peter Mays Trilogy based on the Isle Of Lewis my disappointment was only heightened.
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on 3 April 2014
Struggled with this book. Really enjoyed the first two books in the series with the mix of crime novel and paranormal, but this one seems to have lost the plot. I'm not really interested in bullying senior officers or corrupt colleagues. The previous two were solving crimes with a supernatural twist, it feels as if the author can't make up his mind in this third book which way he wants to go.
Had to struggle to keep going - persevered in the hope it would get better. But sadly, no.
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