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5.0 out of 5 stars Pulsating Thriller That's Good to the Last Drop, 9 May 2014
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
HANGMAN, a new thriller, comes on the heels of American author Stephan Talty’s critically praised, New York Times bestselling crime fiction debut BLACK IRISH. Like its predecessor that won him comparisons to such recent thriller innovators as Jo NesbÝ, Karin Slaughter, and Tana French, it is set in Talty’s hometown, the hard-luck upstate New York city of Buffalo. That is a pretty city when not snow-bound, lake effect snow, they call it; nestled near Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes; the famous thunder of scenic Niagara Falls, and the Canadian border. The book again stars local girl Absalom Kearney, now a driven police detective wearing her father’s old badge.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Buffalo was hugely prosperous, home to more millionaires, safe at home in North Buffalo, than any other American city. It appeared headed for dominance as a world city, based upon its smokestacks and grain elevators. And it knew great population growth and prosperity during World War II. However, since that war, it has steadily been losing prominence and population, and is now a smaller, provincial city, with a world-class art museum in the Albright-Knox.

For a time, Buffalo’s schoolyards have echoed with a chilling rhyme: “Hangman, Hangman, what do you see? Four little girls, as cute as can be.” The chant still horrifies the beautiful homes of North Buffalo. Because, not so long ago, serial killer Marcus Flynn was hunting and hanging that community’s dark-haired teenage girls. He was finally cornered, shot in the head and captured. But Flynn carried the nickname “Hangman,” and the secret of his last victim’s fate with him to prison. Homicide cop Abbie Kearney, a product of the city’s tough Irish American stronghold known as “the County,” wasn’t around during the Hangman’s initial burst of activity.

“Hangman, Hangman, where do they go? Down on the ground, where the daffodils grow,” the rhyme continues. Flynn escapes from prison by killing a corrections officer, and heads back to North Buffalo, where he promptly resumes his killing spree. Abbie is tapped with the job of finding him before he kills again; she soon realizes she may need to fall back upon her father’s rock hard Irish connections in the County to do the job.

In addition to his two crime novels, Talty has published six nonfiction books. He's written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Playboy, the Chicago Review and many other publications. His eBook THE SECRET AGENT was a #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in nonfiction. The writer has here given us a pulsating thriller that’s good to the last drop. His narrative and dialog crackle, and he does a superb job of rendering Buffalo, and its Irish-American County on the page. If you’ve not yet read his crime fiction, this is the time to start. And I’d catch up with BLACK IRISH, which I read, loved, and reviewed in these pages, too.
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