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The Hangman's Song by James Oswald

The Hangman's Song

Part of the Inspector McLean Series
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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

March 2014 Book of the Month.

Part of a compelling Edinburgh-based series from James Oswald (which began with Natural Causes and continued with The Book of Souls) featuring a likeable key protagonist in Detective Inspector Tony McLean. We follow two main themes, prostitution and suicides. Tony McLean has an injured girlfriend undergoing hypnotherapy which seems not to help her but does affect McLean who has to be with her, and greatly affects his career. This side of the story is fascinating.

A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher...

'If you are a fan of seriously good crime fiction, then you will love James Oswald’s Inspector McLean series. The first novel of the series, Natural Causes, introduces one of the most compelling detective lead characters in contemporary crime fiction, Tony McLean. McLean is defined by his ineffable humanity – his quiet and dogged determination to seek justice for the victims of the crimes he investigates. Oswald’s writing is reminiscent of Ian Rankin or Stuart McBride’s Scottish noir, but is also tinged with a slight trace of the supernatural – which adds an intriguing nuance to the stories. I guarantee that once you start this excellent series – you will race through James’s novels, and be left hungry for more.' - Alex Clarke, Editor, Penguin Books

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

If you like James Oswald you might also like to read books by Danielle Ramsay, Chris Ewan and Peter May.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

Reader Reviews

  • Tracey Poulter - 'The book has a mix of genres - mystery, thriller, supernatural - which takes it outside of the normal run of detective stories and I found it strangely compelling.' Read full review >
  • Julie Bertschin - 'A highly addictive storyline to this chillingly brilliant novel...very intriguing; the plot unravels at a tantalising speed keeping the reader hooked right to the last page.' Read full review >
  • Lisa Redmond - 'James Oswald’s novels are brilliant, sharp eyed observations of contemporary policing and the horrors of the criminal mind...cannot recommend these books highly enough.' Read full review >
  • Karin Gibson - 'James Oswald does it again with his third book...Worth a read? Yes 100 percent.' Read full review >
  • Edel Waugh - 'A Truly Gripping Read.' Read full review >
  • Susan Burton - 'Great book and worthy of a fourth book.  The character is a likeable man and all what a great policeman should be.' Read full review >
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Inevitably, given The Hangman’s Song has a basically criminal theme and is based in Edinburgh, comparisons would be made to the great Rebus. How clever that Oswald has created something so very different.' Read full review >
  • Ray Orgill - 'An Edinburgh investigation involving Inspector McLean...Author James Oswald weaves an intricate plot from these facts which involve police corruption, mind games and almost touch on the occult.  An unforgettable story.' Read full review >
  • Margaret Freeman - 'This is a compelling, if disturbing, book that kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next.' Read full review >
  • Carol Peace - 'A great plot and well written I will be looking out for more by James Oswald.' Read full review >
  • Linda Hill - 'The Hangman's Song is gripping, unusual and thrilling...I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and recommend it without hestitation.' Read full review >
  • Sally Welham - 'Fast paced thriller but read his other books first.' Read full review >
  • Jennifer Stewart - 'A maelstrom of murders and supernatural mysteries that picks you up on page one and drops you on the last page, panting and left wanting more!' Read full review >
  • Alison Jones - 'It was so good I almost overcame my unfamiliarity with the previous two instalments and I'm keen to read more.' Read full review >
  • Alan Brown - 'An easy to read Police Procedural...I hope there are more books to come.' Read full review >
  • Siobhan McDowell - 'Totally enjoyable read and now I must get to the bookshop to search out a few other of his titles!' Read full review >
  • Rachel Hall - 'an easy to read, fast paced and action packed crime novel which was hugely enjoyable and involving, however the final few chapters brought the supernatural element to the surface and this did spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.'  Read full review >
  • Joy Bosworth - 'Realistic police novel - one of a series.' Click Here to read the full review. Read full review >

Win a Family Break to Salisbury!

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The Hangman's Song by James Oswald

A young man is found hanging by a rope in his Edinburgh home. A simple, sad suicide, yet Detective Inspector Tony McLean is puzzled by the curious suicide note. A second hanged man and another strange note hint at a sinister pattern. Investigating a brutal prostitution and human trafficking ring, McLean struggles to find time to link the two suicides. But the discovery of a third convinces him of malicious intent. Digging deeper, McLean finds answers much closer to home than he expects. The first two titles in the series, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls, are both available as Penguin Paperbacks and ebooks.

The Inspector McLean series:
1. Natural Causes
2. The Book of Souls
3. The Hangman's Song
4. Dead Men's Bones
5. Prayer for the Dead


'The hallmarks of Val McDermid or Ian Rankin: it's dark, violent, noirish The Herald Crime fiction's next big thing' - The Sunday Telegraph

'Literary sensation...James overnight success has drawn comparisons with the meteoric rise of EL James and her Fifty Shades of Grey series' - Daily Mail

'The new Ian Rankin' - Daily Record

About the Author

James Oswald

James Oswald is the author of the Inspector McLean series of crime novels, respectively Natural Causes, The Book of Souls, The Hangman's Song, Dead Men's Bones and Prayer for the Dead. He has written an epic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro, published by Penguin, as well as comic scripts and short stories.

In his spare time he runs a 350-acre livestock farm in north-east Fife, where he raises pedigree Highland Cattle and New Zealand Romney sheep.

Author photo © Bill Waters

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2014


James Oswald

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Penguin Books Ltd


496 pages


Thriller / Suspense
Books of the Month
Crime / Mystery
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Crime & mystery



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