Monday, January 14, 2019

A Hangman for Ghosts - Blog Tour and Review

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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My Take:

My knowledge of Australian history is minimal, but I was aware that it was used by Britain as a penal colony, and that is about it. But that information is about all one needs to understand and get into the story of A Hangman for Ghosts. Once the reader adjusts to the fact that the main protagonist is a convicted criminal who is acting as the hangman for the colony, it is pretty easy to like Carver and to empathize with him. 

I found the details about the way the colony worked - how it is set up and run as well as  the ins and outs of  Carver's job to be very interesting. These details are important to understand exactly how he manages to do what he does. 

I have to say that there is a massive twist to the novel about half way through that really surprised me - in a good way. So, I have to suggest paying attention to details as you read -- it will help you keep up with all the pieces of the story. I have to give the author props for originality and going against everything I expected from this book! Every time I thought the story would go one way, it went in a totally different direction. 

Rather than give away any vital information about the plot, I think I will just say that the novel puts a spotlight on what we consider to be our identity and examines what it means to ourselves and to others. Sometimes we think we know who someone is, but we are fooled by labels and position. 

I really liked how the novel kind of turns preconceived ideas about people on its head at every opportunity. A Hangman for Ghosts manages to tell a wild, fascinating tale with complex characters that questions a penal system and how it treats people, examines ideas of identity, keeps the reader guessing throughout and tells a story that lingers in the mind afterwards. I feel that A Hangman for Ghosts may not be the easiest read, but it is well worth the time spent reading it.

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.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, December 18
Feature at Tar Heel Reader

Wednesday, December 19
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Friday, December 21
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

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.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
 – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.  A Hangman for Ghosts

1 comment:

  1. I found this to be a unique read too! Thanks so much for hosting Andrei's blog tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours


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