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The Hangman

Novel by Gavin Newman (England) 1994.

This was Guy Smith's first pseudonymous horror work, though he had previously published animal novels for children as 'Jonathan Guy', and sexy confession novels for publishers Tabor as 'Peter Lynch', 'Adrian Wood', 'Alan Myatt', 'Patricia Mathews', 'Joan Hudson' and 'Wendy Davis'. Surprisingly it took him twenty years to invent a pen name for his horror work, used to see how successful he could be without the pigeonholing he tends to receive as an author of gore novels. A �15 hardcover was probably not the best choice for such an experiment and thus the secret didn't last very long.

Lawrence Prendergast was a young misfit, picked on by other kids, oppressed by teachers and dominated by his father. Forced into a career he didn't want, he turns into a lonely and embittered adult, retreating into his own world and nursing his hate towards all who turned him into what he has become. When his father dies, he finally has the chance to become his own person, so using his fascination with the work of the executioner, he slowly but surely wreaks his revenge.

The Hangman can be easily recognised as being the work of Guy N Smith: the style is very similar, as is the way the plot progresses and expands, and the treatment of character. He works his characters' conflicting thoughts and worries in a similar way to Richard Laymon, though the style of prose may be very different, and it's instantly recognisable here. And dedicated fans will recognise much of the plot: apart from the killings, just about all of this is true. An interesting change of direction, though not as far as you might think, this is not a bad novel by anyone's standards.


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