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Customer Review

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 June 2022
Mark Billingham is in the league of crime writers who consistently deliver novels of the highest quality. Whether you’re reading a standalone (last year’s Rabbit Hole was superb) or the latest instalment in the brilliant Tom Thorne series you’ll be treated to a gripping, page turning read, full of the author’s wonderful dark humour, expertly crafted plots and twists you almost certainly won’t see coming. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the series as one book is all it will take to convert you to this author’s writing and possibly become an adoring Tom Thorne fan like me!

The opening is grisly and gruesome but not in the stomach churning sense. Mark Billingham knows precisely how to engage his audience quickly, the depiction of the murder scene hooking me in, guaranteeing my rapt attention henceforth. By stepping into Thorne’s shoes you’re entering into a dark and dangerous underworld where evil and depravity and some very weird characters lurk and it’s perversely enjoyable! You might even learn a few new words in relation to certain predilections! All evidence points towards some very, very clever plotting which in my opinion also displays the author’s trademark wit. Without giving away any spoilers, on this occasion it appears someone is behind the scenes pulling all the strings, intent on rattling Tom’s cage. Has an old adversary come out to play and if so will Thorne be wise to dance to his tune?

Apart from the riveting plot lines it’s the dynamic between the justice seeking trio, Thorne, Tanner and Hendricks that makes this series so entertaining. The camaraderie, the black humour and their cast iron loyalty towards each other really make these characters stand out. Even if this is the first time you’ve made their acquaintance these are three characters you’ll find intriguing and interesting, each one far from perfect and just as capable of less than exemplary behaviour as the rest of us. In short you’ll want to discover what makes them tick. You’ll care about how life treats them. Especially Thorne. I love being a fly on the wall listening to their exchanges, the dialogue between all three always whip smart. Their interactions together with snippets of their personal lives and references to their shared history enhances the storyline without ever detracting from the crime investigation. In fact it’s safe to say this time around it is their close connections and their involvement in past events that are integral to the murder(s) they are tasked with solving.

Mark Billingham excels in the art of distraction, leading you up the garden path, firmly believing one thing is going to happen whilst in reality he’s fiendishly hatching a knockout twist to wipe the smug smile off your face. Ha! I love it! That is one of the reasons why when a new book by this author is available I WILL ALWAYS want to read it! So it comes as no surprise to learn that is exactly what transpires on this occasion; I was left gobsmacked by the turn of events. Never in a million years did I anticipate the way in which the author turns the tables! The finale is brilliant, tense and unpredictable, leaving the reader with a handful of unanswered questions buzzing through their brain. The deliciously untidy ending is in equal measure satisfying and frustrating because you can’t be 100% certain of the consequences arising from these final scenes. I read the last words immediately wanting to know what happens next, a deliberate ploy to ensure that when the time comes you’ll be back for more.

Highly recommend.
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