Sunday, August 23, 2015

Time of Death by Mark Billingham

Description: The astonishing thirteenth Tom Thorne novel is a story of kidnapping, the tabloid press, and a frightening case of mistaken identity.

Tom Thorne is on holiday with his girlfriend DS Helen Weeks, when two girls are abducted in Helen’s home town. When a body is discovered and a man is arrested, Helen recognizes the suspect’s wife as an old school-friend and returns home for the first time in twenty-five years to lend her support. As his partner faces up to a past she has tried desperately to forget and a media storm engulfs the town, Thorne becomes convinced that, despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, the police have got the wrong man. There is still an extremely clever and killer on the loose and a missing girl who Thorne believes might still be alive.

Time of Death is the 13th Tom Thorne by Mark Billingham but the first one I’ve read. There wasn’t a problem picking up the story, as it functions as a stand alone. The characters were interesting, particularly Hendricks when he entered the picture. His interactions with Tom and Helen, Tom’s fellow officer and girlfriend, were particularly entertaining.

The story revolves around the disappearance of two girls from Helen’s home village, one of whom has turned up dead. The husband of a childhood friend is accused and Helen decides to divert her and Tom’s vacation to be with her old friend despite the years since she’d last seen her. Tom tags along and can’t help but unofficially intrude in the investigation. He’s convinced the local cops have it wrong but having a difficult time proving any alternative theories.

Time of Death is a cleverly put together thriller, with fairly dark subject matter. Tom’s instincts that something’s not right hang on the thinnest of evidence, but it’s all laid out in a convincing manner. From facts that don’t seem to quite add up to the desire by local cops to close the case, not out of malice, but out of hope to put the events behind them.

Helen’s reasons for returning are as much a mystery as the dead and missing girls. Her reasons are eventually revealed, but her interactions with just about everyone else are often jarring and she comes across as somewhat unlikeable.

Hendricks is a breath of fresh air when he enters the story and despite the darkness of the subject matter, he brings levity and lightness. He is definitely a character I want to see more of.

Time of Death is not a page turner, but it moves forward at a steady pace along with an exciting conclusion. This is a well written book with engaging characters and a thoughtful plot. Existing fans of the series will be satisfied and new readers will be encouraged to continue reading. Recommended read.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.