Hanged Man's Song is a Great Read

John Sandford

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Sandford is bringing another remarkable series of books to the table

John Sandford is a writer best known for his Prey series of novels. These are more than twenty works chronicling the life and times of a tough Minneapolis Minnesota police detective, Lucas Davenport. The success of the Prey chain of books has definitely put the author on the map as one of the most recognized writers of his time. Though, lots of fans of Lucas Davenport would love the Kidd chain of books. These are lesser known, but by no means show less talent. One of the best is the Hanged Man’s Song.

The main character

Kidd is best known in cyberspace for what he does best. He makes his living in some rather shading dealings online, most of them illegal. He also has more than his share of friends in this same line of business.

His day job is a painter. He fashions himself as an artist. There isn’t a lot of money doing this profession unless you are more than good. The only painters who are real money maker are dead geniuses for the most part. This is why he supplements his income with his other talent, hacking.

When Kidd first began his computer career it was for legitimate jobs. He graduated from college and went to the service. In the Army he gained computer knowledge and left with the intent of making a living in the profession. He wrote more than a few software programs for debugging. Though, he found he enjoyed hacking and began pick up some extra income with political espionage.

Lots of the spying done was virtual, but there were times when a physical presence was needed. Getting into places for obtaining memos, software, drawings and other items not found on the web required a unique set of skills. When these types of jobs came up they were definitely something enjoyable in the monetary department, but this was a different skillset than used for online crime.

Some actually needed an extra set of hands and the best in the business belonged to LuEllen. They have known each other for ten years and he still doesn’t know her last name.

He worked well with LuEllen and they became romantically involved. This is both a pro and con for most of these types of circumstances. The plus side of things is the trust is there with a partner/lover. The downside is the danger felt for a person you simply work a job with and working one with a girlfriend is two different feelings. There is emotion involved with a girlfriend which is sometimes not affordable.

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Lucas Davenport and the Kidd character have tons in common. While one is a police officer and the other a hacker, it is amazing how similar they both really are

Plot of the story

One of his friends, Bobby, disappears from their online community and Kidd’s antennae for trouble goes up. This is an artist, computer expert and more importantly a friend of Kidd’s. His concern is so great he physically searches for Bobby’s whereabouts, starting at his home. When he gets there he discovers some nasty business. Bobby’s wheelchair is turned over and he has been brutally killed.

Bobby is lifeless inside of his home and his laptop is nowhere to be found. His friend has been killed and Kidd is worried. Bobby has been a friend and coworker in more than a few wrongdoings. The offenses committed where done online using the missing laptop. Add to the misery the personal computer connects Kidd and Bobby along with more of their friends who helped with the offense. It names all of the corrupt individuals and more importantly it ties in the client requesting the law breaking activities.

There is no question the person who murdered Bobby needs to be found. Though, more importantly to prevent anyone else from being killed so does the laptop. Obviously, someone wanted him dead and whatever info lies within the computer.

Bobby plays a major role in the small hacking community they belong to. He is the knowledge center for info. He keeps lots of secrets. For instance, he has phone numbers which are unreachable or lost to everyone. He knows who is doing what job for whom and how many are involved. Info like that is certainly something to keep a secret for obvious reasons. Kidd started his search without even knowing his real name or where he lived.

Lots of the book is devoted to the journey taken to get to where the crime took place and tracking the person committing this horrible tragedy.

Unable to go to the police because of the nature of their business, Kidd must enlist all of the coconspirators involved with the felony in this quest. The secrets contained in the missing machine are without doubt enormous and life or death for the people involved. Countless members were wanted for questioning by the Feds in connection with other incidents. He starts his search answers with LuEllen.

One of the most surprising things about the quest for a killer and the machine is the voyage. As they follow the clues and unravel info the material on the laptop is slowly coming to light. There is information so damaging, it takes shocks Kidd.

The secrets on Bobby kept on his machine were enough to make everyone involved more than shocked. He had info on things like details to demolish one of the major aerospace companies in the southern United States, why the Windows operating system continually keeps problems and other reasons issues continually occurred with a United States satellite. With secrets like that, things were bound to come to a head. Being insulated online was a definitely advantage, but someone skirted that insulation somehow.

In reality the problem with his death goes way beyond the circle of friends/colleagues working an illegal activity together. The whole truth comes out and it is so much bigger and scarier than Kidd ever imagined he is capable of dealing with.

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The Scarpetta novels and Sue Grafton's Alphabet are equal to John Sandford's production of the Hanged Man's Song

Personal opinion

This is one of the best chains of books I have read. In fact, they are on the same level as the Scarpetta novels following the coroner and her crew or Sue Grafton’s character Kinsey Millhone. All of these have something which puts them outside of the box when it comes to the average mystery. The Kidd persona is no exception.

There are a reality to the dialogue and interaction among people which keeps the readers interest at all times. There is never a good place to stop and leave reading for later.

The level of suspense is astonishing. It is more than an average who done it. There are questions asked, but the answer is one of several and this is what keeps the suspense at a higher level.

There is always a background buzz. This is what I refer to when the author gives us more info to work with than what is currently going on in the “now”. Telling us about the history of the deceased guy or the childhood of LuEllen are all key components in the story. When he gives it up is unique. These little tidbits are sometimes dropped in the middle of unusual situations. LuEllen’s childhood comes up while she is breaking into a safe or riding in the car and Kidd takes a look at her beautiful profile.

One of the other appeals about all of Sanford’s books is they are never full of beautiful people. The people are all regular and ordinary. There happens to be nothing extraordinary about them unless it is their actions shown under fire.

It is a thumb up great read for anyone loving a murder mystery from one of New York Times Best Selling authors.

In conclusion

The cast of personalities and eccentrics met along the way are certainly works of talented writing. Sanford’s ability to make fans root for the criminal is incredible. He takes what they do for a living and makes it real. It is not romanticized in the least, but there are times when a reader questions who the bad guy is in this mystery.

Sandford continues to amaze his fans by writing outside of the box. The character in the novels following the Kidd persona is the flip side of Lucas Davenport in the Prey equivalents. This is ingenious and only reinforces the talent already seen from Sandford in previous work.

Waiting expectantly for the next series of books and what they will offer fans. Whatever he dreams up will definitely be great and worth reading.

One could label most of the crimes committed by Kidd in his escapades as virtuous. He is similar to the Davenport character in the Prey works, but on the opposite side of the coin. Where Lucas is the law and order, Kidd is the unlawful.

The Kidd series include; The Fools Run, The Empress File, The Devils Code and The Hanged Man’s Song.

Are you familiar with any of the Kidd Novels from John Sandford?

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