- Series: Billy Tree Mysteries (Book 2)
- Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; 1st edition (August 18, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312989369
- ISBN-13: 978-0312989361
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,455,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hangman's Knot: A Novel (Billy Tree Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – August 18, 2003
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A 50-year-old hate crime puts acting deputy sheriff Billy Tree in the sights of a man who won't stop at murder to keep his role in it a secret. Tree, the former Secret Service agent who made his debut in Wiltse's bestselling Heartland, has come home to the small Nebraska town where he was raised, a place where he's still remembered as a star athlete and revered as a hero. Nothing much ever happens in Falls City, so when a mysterious black man appears in a town where that's a rare occurrence, and then a hangman's noose and a photograph of the lynching of Lawton Collins turn up in his own mailbox, Billy goes looking for the connection. He finds it in the last places he ever expected: his own family history and the bed of the woman he loves. The Hangman's Knot is a strong, suspenseful thriller with a complex and fascinating protagonist whose auspicious return might signal a compelling new series for its accomplished author. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Wiltse's brooding 12th novel veers between thriller set pieces and oracular social commentary. At the start of his first adventure (Heartland, 2001), battered Secret Service agent Billy Tree exiled himself to his native Nebraska, where, as deputy sheriff, he dealt with more crime than he had bargained for. Now the solemn Tree is (vainly) hoping once more to live the simple life. Naturally, there's trouble aplenty in little Falls City, though of the smalltown variety: two-timing women, busted-up cars, a dead dog and, most iniquitous by far, a lynching, long-buried but whispered about in town folklore. Murky flashbacks provide a progressively more detailed picture of the awful crime from generations ago. In the present, someone anonymously leaves Billy a small hangman's noose, repeating the gesture more than once. This and the sudden arrival of strapping black Odette Collins (a long-forgotten high school sports rival) give Billy more than pause. Ostensibly a thriller, Wiltse's novel clearly aims at something deeper, with only partial success. The dour, stubborn Billy is not the most engaging or empathetic hero. Many scenes are followed by Billy's lengthy (and unintegrated) pondering of his feelings, motives and prejudices. Aesthetics aside, such self-absorption is not the same thing as depth nor does it serve to win over the reader. Similarly, Wiltse can't resist bald lecturing when persuasive storytelling would be more effective. He does better with mood and local color, incisively capturing the rhythms and details of rural life.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This book is mostly about a lynching that happened over 50 years before the time the book took place, and the repercussions that result from it, through the years. It involves one whopper of a coincidence, and a lot of misconceptions, mistaken identities, and confused motives. At the end of the book you're still not entirely certain what happened, and it's apparent that the main characters aren't sure either. While the book does have an interesting plot, and some action that keeps it moving, it also can be just annoying. There's a scene where one character repeatedly refers to the "weapon" because saying anything else would give away to the reader something the author wishes to conceal, for instance. Anyway, I enjoyed the book, but not that much, and I think I'd be wary of recommending it.
Although Billy is a good man who is admired by his fellow townsfolk, he constantly battles his own feelings of jealousy and prejudice and never believes that he his worthy of their admiration. This book deals quite sensitively with race issues and prejudices and the way, not only Billy tries to fight them, but the way the greater population still accepts them.
Wiltse manages to describe rural Nebraska so poetically that he makes what would normally be considered a boring landscape of flat fields of corn seem beautiful and special to behold. His description of a Nebraska sunset had me ready to pack up my belongings and head straight to the cornfields myself.
Billy receives a hangman's knot and the adventure begins. It all seems to go back to a lynching held in a nearby town many years ago. The writer's portrayal of current and past bigotry in a small town was told easily as he held the suspense level to a maximum. The story could stand alone, but when you add the beautiful prose and great characterizations, you change what could be a good book to a great one.
If you enjoy terrific writing and a wonderful story, I highly recommend you read The Hangman's Knot. If you've not read Heartland, I urge you to read it as well.
Doesn't sound like a pretty good cop (not really a cop, more of an unpaid 'advisor'). WRONG. He still posesses great investigating skills. You kind of like this character in spite of himself: his being funny at the wrong time, telling jokes to relieve pressure situations, talking in his Irish brogue for no apparent reason, speaking to people over their intellectual powers without insulting them.
This second book in the Billy Tree series involves the lynching of a black man some 50 years in the past and the repercussions today. Excellent writing - the kind you have to read a bit more slowly than normal to appreciate to gift that David Wiltse posseses.
Though not very original, this latest by Wiltse does in fact tell a good story and creates a greater depth to his protagonist Billy Tree (remember 'Heartland'). Billy seems to stumble around quite a bit in most of the book, missing alot of clues (e.g. the rabid dog) and shaking in his boots every time he sees or hears a gun. This of course gives him the human quality achieved in this novel. Wiltse's descriptions of the area are accurate and almost make you feel as if you're there, describing the heat and humidity, "Like sitting in an oven, wrapped in a wet horse blanket". A good story that is sometimes too wordy, but moves at a steady moderate pace.