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The Hanged Man's Song (Kidd and LuEllen) Hardcover – November 10, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

Just about everybody knows John Sandford for his long and successful Prey series. But just as well written and maybe more fun are his Kidd books, of which this is the fourth. Kidd is a professional thief for the Internet age: a cyberprowler, a hacker extraordinaire. In The Hanged Man's Song, he gets word that one of his key contacts--a superhacker known only as Bobby, whom Kidd has never met but has relied on many times--has disappeared. Kidd and an old buddy, both of whom could be compromised by data in Bobby's files, go looking for him. Finding his brutally murdered body draws them into a Hitchcock-esque intrigue that eventually involves stolen government secrets, crooked politicians, and a rogue CIA agent who's as crafty as he is creepy.

While filling his tale with fascinating and authentic-sounding lore about the hacker subculture, identity theft, and security cracking, Sandford keeps the action brisk with plenty of white-knuckle chases, tense stakeouts, and hairsbreadth escapes. Couple that with a smart, agreeable narrator and a cast of vivid characters evoked with an old pro's ease, and you've got one winning thriller. --Nicholas H. Allison

From Publishers Weekly

This series of techno-suspense novels featuring artist, computer wizard and professional criminal Kidd (The Fool's Run; The Empress File; The Devil's Code) and his sometime girlfriend, cat-burglar LuEllen, are far fewer in number and less well-known than Sandford's bestselling Prey books. In this entry, Bobby, Kidd's genius hacker friend ("Bobby is the deus ex machina for the hacking community, the fount of all knowledge, the keeper of secrets, the source of critical phone numbers, a guide through the darkness of IBM mainframes"), goes offline for good when he is hammered to death by an intruder. Bobby's laptop is stolen, which is bad news for Kidd as several of his more illegal transactions may be catalogued on the hard drive. Kidd needs to find the computer, break the encryption and revenge Bobby's death. The trail leads from Kidd's St. Paul, Minn., art studio to heat-stricken rural Mississippi and on to Washington, D.C., where Kidd uncovers a government conspiracy that threatens the reputations and livelihood of most of the nation's elected representatives. One of the joys of the series is learning the tricks of computer hacking and basic burglary as Kidd and LuEllen take us to Radio Shack, Target, Home Depot and an all-night supermarket to buy ordinary gear, including a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew, to use in clever, illegal ways. The action is as hot and twisted as a Mississippi back road, but the indefatigable Kidd eventually straightens it all out and exacts a sort of rough justice that matches his flexible moral code. The early entries in this series have aged badly because of the advances in technology, but this latest intelligent and exciting thriller proves a worthy addition to Sandford's overall body of work.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Kidd and LuEllen (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam; 1st edition (November 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399151397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399151392
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #556,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Sandford was born John Camp on February 23, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended the public schools in Cedar Rapids, graduating from Washington High School in 1962. He then spent four years at the University of Iowa, graduating with a bachelor's degree in American Studies in 1966. In 1966, he married Susan Lee Jones of Cedar Rapids, a fellow student at the University of Iowa. He was in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, worked as a reporter for the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian from 1968-1970, and went back to the University of Iowa from 1970-1971, where he received a master's degree in journalism. He was a reporter for The Miami Herald from 1971-78, and then a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press from 1978-1990; in 1980, he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and he won the Pulitzer in 1986 for a series of stories about a midwestern farm crisis. From 1990 to the present he has written thriller novels. He's also the author of two non-fiction books, one on plastic surgery and one on art. He is the principal financial backer of a major archaeological project in the Jordan Valley of Israel, with a website at In addition to archaeology, he is deeply interested in art (painting) and photography. He both hunts and fishes. He has two children, Roswell and Emily, and one grandson, Benjamin. His wife, Susan, died of metastasized breast cancer in May, 2007, and is greatly missed.

Customer Reviews

Fascinating reading, keeping you in the story until the very end.
That I personally find Kidd a less interesting character than Davenport is not as important as this fact, he is still a very believable, very well drawn, character.
John Harrison
I am an avid John Sandford reader and Lucas Davenport fan but the Kidd series is my favorite.
Tucker Andersen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 88 people found the following review helpful By John Harrison on November 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Whenever I see the name John Sandford on a book with a title that I have not already read, I buy it. I don't look at the jacket. I don't read the blurbs on the back of the book. I just tuck it under my arm, and I buy it. And, when I get home, no matter what else I am reading, I read it. He is that good, and more important, unlike some other generally very good authors writing today, he is that consistent.
I tell you all of this in fair warning - I am a fan of John Sandford (I know he is really John Camp, but I first met him as John Sandford and it has stuck.). That being said this not his best book. His best books are any of his Lucas Davenport, "Prey," novels. The Kidd series is not his best series, it is merely the second best thriller series being written today. Sandford's "Prey" series is the best, the benchmark.
However enough of all this, simply stated, this is his best Kidd novel to date and that makes it very good indeed. That I personally find Kidd a less interesting character than Davenport is not as important as this fact, he is still a very believable, very well drawn, character. The bad guy, less well drawn, but still believable, is not as important in this novel as the way the plot works out and the way that Kidd responds to the pressure that is a hallmark of all of the Sandford novels.
This book requires no suspension of disbelief in one of its central points, that anyone talented enough and persistent enough could find evidence of a number of really bad things that many powerful politicians have done, and that if these items of evidence were all collected into one place, this information would be both powerful and dangerous for the holder.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Tucker Andersen VINE VOICE on December 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid John Sandford reader and Lucas Davenport fan but the Kidd series is my favorite. Since there have been relatively few books featuring Kidd, I was delighted to see the publicity for this book until I read on the book jacket that Bobby's murder and its ramifications form the central element of the plot. Bobby has been such an essential supporting character in the previous books that I was afraid that the author had chosen this method to end the series and thus my enjoyment of this story might be bittersweet. While it is always disappointing to say goodbye to an old literary acquaintance such as Bobby, Kidd fans should be relieved that the ending holds out the possibility that the series will continue. But beware, Kidd and Luellen will be forever changed.
The story is very simple, superhacker Bobby, Kidd's online lifeline and friend, goes silent and when Kidd and a friend assemble the clues that reveal Bobby's physical location (they have known him only in cyberspace), they discover that he has been murdered. Ominously, Bobby's laptop has been stolen and Bobby's circle of friends are very worried about what secrets might be revealed (including clues to their identities) if the encryption is cracked. Therefore, they have the dual goal of avenging Bobby's death and protecting themselves as well. Soon, secrets from Bobby's laptop start becoming public that involve powerful people, strike at the heart of government, and increase the risks to all concerned; thus their quest becomes a race against time. This is the quintessential Kidd, a libertarian loner with his own agenda, operating on both sides of the law and torn between his artistic impulses and his computer skills.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. Shaff on January 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
John Sandford is best known for his "Prey" series featuring Lucas Davenport, a tough, street-smart cop. Sandford's alter-ego to Davenport is Kidd, a "gray area" hacker often on the dubious side of the law. While "Prey" and Davenport hog the headlines for Sandford, its the Kidd novels I find most intriguing and fun.
As an intro, Kidd is an artist...hacker; his love is art but his trade is hacking. As the Kidd novels grow, we find Kidd becoming a more demanded artist but again, his penchant for the dark side is where the fun is. This is the fourth in Sandford's Kidd series, featuring our anti-hero Kidd, and LuEllen the thief, Kidd's companion/sometimes lover.
THE HANGED MAN'S SONG abruptly begins with the murder of none other than the mysterious Bobby, the hacker's hack, the mysterious man with his finger on the pulse of all that is computer geekdom. Bobby has set up an elaborate network of hackers, all of whom "know of" Bobby but don't know Bobby. Kidd is a part of this network and knows exactly the power of Bobby. Bobby was the faceless friend of Kidd and LuEllen who had assisted them in previous "jobs" of a somewhat nefarious nature. Upon learning of Bobby's "silence," and what turns out to be his murder, Kidd and others in the network become extremely concerned about Bobby's missing laptop, apparently stolen by Bobby's killer. This laptop held many, many dark secrets, facts, and evidence...information that could destroy lives-including Kidd's.
Kidd, LuEllen and another network friend, John, begin a frantic investigation into Bobby's murder and missing laptop. Their obvious goal is to retrieve the laptop and secure the information contained therein but, just as importantly, nab and "bring to justice" Bobby's killer.
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