Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Time of Death – Mark Billingham

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction

This is DI Tom Thorne’s thirteenth outing and although I haven’t read the entire series I’ve dipped in and out over the years. This is a great example of the strength of the characterisation and plot that this author produces and is reads successfully as stand-alone novel.

Tom Thorne and his partner Helen Weeks are having some time away for a romantic break in the Cotswolds although Tom has stipulated a ban on walking and antiques shops, but still it is a break. Not for long though because when the news comes through of a crime is committed in Helen’s home town, Polesford, her ears prick up. When she finds out that one of her old friends is the suspect’s wife she rushes to support her. This leaves Tom at a loose end and he just can’t resist carrying out his own investigation – a true busman’s holiday.

I do love crimes that are set in small communities, there is something very distinctive about the way they operate, with everyone knowing so much about each other’s lives, the suspicion of outsiders, the gossip and the protection and tolerance of their own, up to a point. That line is drawn when two girls go missing and Linda’s husband is taken in for questioning based upon some strong evidence and the race is on to find the missing girls.

Unusually for a crime novel this book is as much about what happens to the family of a suspect when they are arrested as it is about the victims as well as the who, how and why element, and I really enjoyed it. Linda has two teenage children, trapped in an unfamiliar house while their own is combed by the scenes of crime officers, the tension between them all is palpable especially as they are being ‘looked after’ by the police and gawped at by the press camped outside the door. It takes a true story-teller to manage a disparate group of characters and maintain some of the most authentic dialogue I’ve read in quite some time.

There are revelations about many of the characters, some truly ingenious reasoning by Hendricks, the pathologist and friend of Thorne and Weeks, some terrifying excerpts from the victim and a real mystery to be solved. Mark Billingham gives the reader a fair shot with the clues but he doesn’t half muddy the water by manipulating the reader to look the other way whilst they are revealed.

This was a thoroughly satisfying read, one that made me want to go back and read those that I have inexplicably missed earlier on the series.

I’d like to thank the publishers Grove Atlantic for allowing me to read this wonderful book which is already available for the kindle but will be published in paperback on 2 June 2015.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

22 thoughts on “Time of Death – Mark Billingham

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Cleo. It does indeed take some skill to offer the point of view of a murder suspect. Whether that person is guilty or innocent, that takes some finesse.


    1. This was the first one that really concentrated on what happens to the suspect’s family that I can remember reading, as you say some skill is required as we are programmed to hate the crime, the suspect and unfortunately often those connected with them.


  2. Another long series I haven’t tried, but that’s OK. I have the first book already. And I’m having such luck this year. This book certainly sounds compelling. Am very tempted to jump in at this point and read it even without the previous books. 🙂


    1. I haven’t read this series in order with several gaps and I believe some on my bookshelf purchased yet not read (oops) but fortunately Mark Billingham is an excellent storyteller so it works.


  3. I’ve read a few by this author and while they’ve all been very good, they have also tended to be too gruesome for my tastes. The focus on the family of a suspect seems as though this could be a rich field for exploration–one that is often untouched.


    1. The earlier ones I’ve read were incredibly gruesome (and scary) I was really impressed at the focus on the suspect’s family, I can’t remember another book where this has featured so strongly.


  4. I had this series recommended to me last year and I just forgot to pick him up, what with the deluge of books I seem to have coming in all the time. I really am interested in this and heard his writing skills are spot-on, so thank you for the reminder. I’m also wondering, like Kay, if I can just jump in and then maybe look for book #1 to get the backstory, or do I have to read every single one in order.


    1. He is a fantastic story-teller and the only time I was aware that it would have been helpful to know more was to do with his relationship with Helen – the rest was easily read as a stand-alone book.


  5. Glad to hear it sounds so good – will be reading it soon! I’m also glad it works as a standalone because it’s so long since I last read one of this series that it’ll be almost like coming to it completely new. You’ve made me even keener to read it now… 🙂


    1. I did read The Dying Hours last year but I haven’t read all of this series and shockingly when sorting out my bookshelf the other week found more that I’ve still to read – I’m sure my books multiply by themselves 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Cleo,

    I too have dipped in and out of this series, as I do with most to be honest!

    I haven’t read this particular book, but I love the character of Tom Thorne and enjoy Mark Billingham’s style of writing.

    Thanks for sharing, I missed this one the first time around 🙂



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