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I've enjoyed Mark Billingham's work for many years now. I first found out about his detective thriller writing when I'd gone to listen to Christopher Brookmeyer talk at a Book Festival event and Mark happened to be on with him. Mark's transition from stand up comedy to thriller writing seemed odd and intriguing then. But reading the Tom Thorne series it seemed to make more sense - there was lots of observational detail and black humour peppers some of the characters core relationships. His research into the issues that are used in his books, especially around homelessness, abuse and drug use - marks him out as an author - lending sensitivity and realism. I really enjoyed Rush of Blood - one of his stand alone thrillers that I listened to. So I was excited at 'the new Tom Thorne book' and wondering where on earth it was going to go - in pretty much every sense of the word - after the mayhem on Bardsey Island in 'The Bones Beneath'.
Mark Billingham performs this book and how. I was gripped from the beginning, I was up all last night feeling emotionally wrenched around by the rollercoaster ending. I read and listen to so many thrillers that I'm amazed that I didn't see plot twists coming - I don't know if that was due to me be being so emotionally caught up in a harrowing story that seemed all to real. The pace and switching of narrative voices seemed just right to me - I wanted to know what was going on with each set of people and was worried about the other characters who were out of the action in the moment.
The story and the characters became more powerful, real, punchy and gripping the nearer it got to the conclusion. And I'd thought it was a bloody good book to start with. I purposely haven't mentioned anything - the directions the book takes, the how and the why of it, are part of the skill and the art. I wouldn't have liked to have missed any surprises or twists and turns. I'd just like to give the author a standing ovation. There's one other detective book that has left me this blown away - Angel's Flight by Michael Connelly - which had a powerful but gruesome ending, but that was number 6 in a detective series. For Billingham's 13th Thorne book to do some brave things and make some powerful new moves - well hats off to you sir.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
This is the latest and eleventh novel charting the career of detective Tom Thorne, and having read or listened to many of them, think this is one of the best in the series. The story is more inventive in the use of forensic science and Thorne seems a more nuanced character than in earlier books. The detective’s personal life is woven into the story which makes it more interesting. As par for the course of this genre the crimes are elaborate and somewhat contrived but it all adds up to an engrossing listen. A plus for me is that there aren't too many salivating descriptions of the violence perpetrated on the victims.
The author narrates the book even better than in the previous books.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful