A Hangman for Ghosts
by Andrei Baltakmens
Publication Date: July 1, 2018
Top Five Books
Paperback & eBook; 288 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
“We are transported. We are consigned to the ends of the Earth. And we are therefore as good as dead to the realm and its judges. There can be no hope of reprieve…”
Gabriel Carver, the convict hangman of Sydney Prison, knows that none of his kind may depart Australia’s penal colony without the system’s leave. Then three people are murdered, seemingly to protect the “Rats’ Line,” an illicit path to freedom that exists only in the fevered imaginations of transported felons. But why kill to protect something that doesn’t exist?
When an innocent woman from Carver’s past is charged with one of the murders and faces execution at his hands, she threatens to reveal an incriminating secret of his own unless he helps her. So Carver must try to unmask the killer among the convicts, soldiers, sailors, and fallen women roaming 1829 Sydney. If he can find the murderer, he may discover who is defying the system under its very nose. His search will take him back to the scene of his ruin—to London and a past he can never remake nor ever escape, not even at the edge of the world.
“Baltakmens (The Raven’s Seal, 2012), echoing the voices of 19th-century masters like Conrad and Melville, combines adventure and mystery in a high-stakes tale of class, morality, and justice.” –Kirkus Reviews
“With rich historical details that evoke Australia’s early colonial days, this is a wonderful, traditional novel.…Folding in vivid details, bright characters, and compelling dialogue, the story is a page-turner, a savory treat to be devoured.” – Foreward Reviews
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About the Author
Andrei Baltakmens was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, of Latvian descent. He has a Ph.D. in English literature, focused on Charles Dickens and Victorian urban mysteries.
His first novel, The Battleship Regal, was published in New Zealand in 1996. His short fiction has appeared in various literary journals, and his first historical mystery, The Raven’s Seal, was published in 2012.
Since 2004, he has lived in Ithaca, New York and Brisbane, Australia, where he recently completed a doctorate in Creative Writing at The University of Queensland. He now lives in Palo Alto, California, with his wife and son, and works for Stanford University as an instructional designer.
Coffee and Ink’s Review
I loved this unexpected historical murder mystery. Set in Australia in the 19th century, there is an odd sort of society emerging due to the transportation of criminals from England. Into this mix of men and women slowly broiling alive in the subtropical sun (wearing wool, no less) comes Carver, a convict, now a mysterious, though principled, executioner. A landholder is murdered, and he needs to find out by whom and why, because it’s his wife who’s been accused.
This is a brutal place, a weird through-the-looking-glass land that resembles England in its customs and laws and language, though it’s a country on its way to becoming something else entirely. Carver, in order to solve a murder that takes labyrinthine twists and turns, returns to London and the man he used to be. For a time, anyway.
The writing is exquisite, and I think other reviewers are right in that this has the feel of a Master’s 19th century classic—a Dickens down-under, as it were. It’s difficult to tell the difference between the convicts and the people who hold their lives in their hands. Vivid, unflinching prose in a land where the sun is fulsome, but never brightens the darkness.
Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, December 18
Feature at Tar Heel Reader
Wednesday, December 19
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog
Thursday, December 27
Interview at Passages to the Past
Friday, December 28
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Thursday, January 3
Interview at Bookish Rantings
Monday, January 7
Review at Broken Teepee
Thursday, January 10
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, January 14
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, January 15
Review at Coffee and Ink
Wednesday, January 16
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Monday, January 21
Review at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, January 22
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of A Hangman for Ghosts! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
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