House of the Hanged – Mark Mills

Tom Nash has a past and for the last sixteen years he has managed to avoid it but suddenly one summer in 1935 in a small village on the French coast whilst his friends and the only person he is close to, his god-daughter Lucy are visiting it comes back to haunt him in a rather dramatic and life changing way.

Someone tries to kill Tom. Every instinct that Tom thought he had buried suddenly comes screaming to the front and the book continues apace filling in the gaps of how Tom comes to be where he is now. We know from the beginning of the book that we are dealing with the secret intelligence service of more than one country at the end of The Great War. However, disruption and revolution seem to brewing in Europe and suddenly a 16-year-old grudge needs to be settled.

Tom suspects everyone and no one and as the book continues we see him analyse all those around him as he tries to come to the right conclusion before it is too late. His life is now in someone else’s hands and he does not like it. Who has let slip about his past and now wants to threaten everything in his present?

This book very much reminded me of James Bond novels. Probably more the films than the actual novels, as I could visualise how it could all be played out on screen. Mark Mills leaves nothing to chance and gives us full descriptions of the assassins and all those possible suspects. The little tricks, nuances and skill are there whether it comes from Tom or from one of his associates. The reader is given all the facts and then has to come to a conclusion. I was slightly confused by the beginning of the story and did reread a couple of times, to get the characters in place in my mind but once I had done this the book flew along as I wanted to get to the outcome. I guessed one part correctly but admit to being slightly confused by the plot, this I am sure was the intention because by the end I had it all organised in my mind.

I have read all previous Mark Mills’ books and I have to confess I rank this up there with The Savage Garden and is one of his stronger novels. If you like a historical setting and background, a mystery, some spies and intrigue and a sprinkling of 1930s Europe society then this is an ideal book.

Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

I have read all of Mark Mills novels though not in the order they were published. I first came across The Savage Garden thanks to Richard and Judy book club. I then read The Information Officer and subsequently his first novel The Whaleboat House. All have completely different storylines, plots and cover differing eras. I confess as I mention in one of my reviews that had I read The Whaleboat House first, I would never have picked up another book by Mills. In which case I would have missed out on some rather good books.

According to his website, his fascination with the 1930s which the House of the Hanged is set in could see another book featuring some of the characters. Quite possibly you may well have hit upon something there Mark and I do hope you choose to take up the mantle.