I love a good police/crime/thriller and The Hanging Club certainly ticked all of the boxes. This novel by Tony Parsons is an excellent book to read and review.
In a world where the guilty go free and unpunished and the innocent suffer through lack of justice, there is a place for a new kind of rough justice – one that is immediate, justifiable, righteous – and the public just loves it.
Enter the world of the 21st century vigilantes – The Hanging Club, a club which dispenses justice via social media to the criminals whom they see have not paid for their crimes – a child groomer who destroyed the innocence of many children, a hit and run driver who killed a child and a mugger who left an old war hero for dead.
They are all hung by a group of masked executioners in a dark unknown cellar. Too accustomed to seeing the criminal go free through legal loopholes, huge public debate is generated over the morality of these killers. Are they heroes or are they murderers?
Enter DC Max Woolfe and his team as they endeavour to find and unmask the killers. But DC Max Woolfe his own demons, a single father with a child to raise and the reappearance of a childhood friend who has secrets of his own, occupy his mind – but can Max afford to uncover these secrets? Wouldn’t they be better left hidden?
We are hurled into the underbelly of London, on the trail of the hero hangmen who are named after the last British Hangman – Albert Pierrepoint. In fact, they wear his mask as they execute their wild form of justice. Through research and the help of an academic professor, Max Woolfe finds a recurring theme for the executions.
The gallows at Tyburn was the site where 19th-century criminals met their end at the end of a noose. The Tyburn theme recurs and brings the only clues to the killings. But the killers are always one step ahead of the investigation team, cleverly eluding them whilst maintaining the upper hand. Meanwhile, Max’s boss encounters her own form of evil when her young son is glassed in the eyes by a notorious gang who cannot be named or caught. Frustrated by a system that allows the guilty to walk and the innocent to suffer, Max also has his own crises as he hunts the killers down.
Playing to a gallery of the media and the social media public, the hanging club is feted and applauded. The Police are frustrated by a lack of public support but are more determined than ever to find the perpetrators. This fast-paced novel has tension and drama aplenty.
The reader can readily identify with the frustration of a public that are tired of seeing criminals walk free after only a short stint in jail. However, there are moral and ethical standards that cannot allow vigilantes to dispense justice, no matter how deserved it seems.
This novel examines the complexities of justice, of the victim and the perpetrator and of everybody involved in the case. From the bereft families to the great unwashed baying for blood and justice, to the victims themselves who have no voice. The Hanging Club skilfully and critically examines modern justice and the frustration resulting from punishment not being meted out to the perpetrator. It also examines a world where social media can be coerced into believing that public executions posted online are a just and tolerable way to deal with the ineptitude of the justice system. Even when the members of the hanging club are revealed, there is a sense of their being justified as real justice was not done in the first place by those who should dispense it – the judicial system.
This is a thought provoking and challenging read. I enjoyed it so much, I just kept reading into the wee small hours so I could get to the riveting conclusion. And it was worth losing sleep for. This novel gallops along building tension until the stunning finale.
If you love a good police thriller, then The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons is the book for you. It’s available now from Dymocks.