the third book in the police procedural series featuring Edinburgh
Detective Inspector Tony McLean.
As in Oswald’s earlier novels, there are aspects of the supernatural
prevalent, adding an intriguing touch.
The unorthodox Scottish investigator has been shifted to the sex
crimes unit. He’s now working on a case involving an overseas
prostitution ring and a murdered pimp.
There’s still a bit of fallout from McLean’s last case, (“The Book of
Souls”); his relationship with his former lover Emma is severely strained
as she recovers from a major memory loss after being in a coma.
McLean hires Jenny as a live-in caretaker to help with Emma’s
recovery, but more assistance is needed.
Soon Dr. Eleanor Austin begins treatment on Emma with regression
therapy and hypnosis.
Supernatural elements abound, particularly when a transvestite
medium utilizes her skills. McLean can’t easily cope with some
His superiors want him to close up another investigation,
where two victims are discovered hanging just days apart.
The detective doesn’t want to comply; he has a feeling that they are
not simple suicides. He’s puzzling over the fact that an identical rope
was used in both cases and that the noose’s knots were tied in exactly the
When a third body is found, many more questions surface; is a
copycat killer on the loose?
McLean gets more deeply involved in the case but his bosses just
want him to forget it; he must use devious methods to continue
Eventually, as the body count rises, more clues point to a
suspect - but there’s little proof and additional worrisome
Further deadly complications arise as McLean digs deeper into the
prostitution ring case, where women are being exported to foreign
countries; disturbing, unnerving facts emerge.
Oswald’s characterization is very strong, making it easy for the
reader to empathize with their struggles and emotional stability.
After a while, it becomes tougher to keep track of all of the
characters and their roles; the over-sized paperback is almost 500 pages
The author doesn’t resolve all issues, so there’s sure to be a
sequel. While “The Hangman’s Song” works well as a stand-alone novel,
it’s probably best to read the series in order.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.