There are times when I want to read a book where I know exactly what I am getting. Mark Billingham provides this in his Inspector Tom Thorne series. I wouldn’t say you have to read the entire series and this one works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel, the only downside to that is you won’t recognise the character progression of our protagonist Tom Thorne.
Mark Billingham was a stand-up comedian appearing at the places like The Comedy Store before becoming an author. It is the flashes of humour, that appear just at the right moment to lighten the mood, that makes his books so attractive to me. The other characteristic which puts these books up there as a must read for me is that they are set in London which is my favourite crime location for no real reason except it is.
Mark Billingham has done it again. By ‘it’ I mean this is a crime novel populated by characters I recognised a plot that is different but not so unbelievable that it made me go ‘That would never happen!’ and enough twists in the story to keep me on my toes.
I have to confess I have quite a soft spot for Inspector Tom Thorne. This lover of country music is a complex but not ‘off the wall’ character and at this stage in his story is no longer part of murder investigations, instead he is effectively demoted to dealing with local policing issues as diverse as breaking up fights and moving on those who frequent the local dogging sites.
When our Tom Thorne first suspects that some suicides were anything but he was laughed out of the Murder Investigation Team so he does some digging himself. Clearly the spot of bother he got himself into has not taught him a great deal! Juggling this covert operation he is also juggling his relationship with Helen and her young son Alfie. Billingham manages to weave the home life versus the professional life of Tom extremely well and with that touch of humour that makes me want his latest book each time one is published.
As much as I love this series I can’t say this is one of my favourites but it was still a great read. It is like visiting an old friend and not only finding out how their life is but the lives of their friends who you know vaguely. This reader is already eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
Here is the series so far:
Sleepyhead – His first three victims ended up dead. His fourth was not so fortunate . . .
Scaredycat – Now… killing is a team sport…
Lazybones – The past has caught up with them.
And so has he…
The Burning – Some fires never go out . . .
Lifeless – Some lives are cheaper than others . . .
Buried – The past is a shallow grave . . .
Death Message – That’s what coppers call it when they have to tell someone that a loved one has been killed.
Bloodline – It seems like a straightforward domestic murder….
From the Dead – the man she paid to have murdered – seems very much alive and well…
Good as Dead – The hostage, the demand, the twist.
In the Dark – A deadly crash… A dangerous quest… a shocking twist
Rush of Blood – Perfect strangers, perfect holiday, perfect murder
- Bloody Scotland Q and A Session With Lin Anderson – Mark Billingham And Alex Gray (theresbeenamurder.wordpress.com)