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==Synopsis of the book:==
Just over 10 years ago crook Alan Langford's body was discovered in a burnt out car. Alan was involved in the underworld and anything bad that was illegal happening in town he was generally masterminding it. His wife Donna was found guilty after identifying the body of conspiracy to murder. That was because she paid a man who was also sentenced to prison to kill her evil husband, who additionally knocked her about.
Detective Inspector Tom Thorne who originally headed this investigation, is approached by a Private Detective Anna Carpenter who is working for the recently released Donna Langford. Anna feels out of her depth working for this woman and feels she needs Thorne's help. As she has been given recent pictures of a very much alive Alan Langford looking tanned and happy. Alan is stunned by this and realises the photo is the 'dead man' and to stop Anna going to the press with this agrees to help her try and find out where he is and who the other dead man could be.
Donna Langford is not interested in finding her husband but a few months ago her only daughter Ellie vanished shortly after her 18th birthday. She thinks Langford has snatched her. But who is sending her these pictures and why?
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I found this an very enjoyable and intriguing piece of crime fiction. It forms part of a Detective series featuring DI Tom Thorne which in my opinion has also been successfully transferred to television. What really impressed me about not only this book but the series in general is the depth in the story and the way every angle seems to be covered and considered in the investigation and this gives it an honest and realistic feel to each story.
The books author Mark Billingham was born in England in 1961. He was won several writing awards and the Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British writer for DI Tom Thorne. At the time of writing Billingham has written 10 stories in this series with this novel being the 9th and was first published in 2010. Quite unusually this author has tended to concentrate on his Thorne series, maybe because they have been so popular and successful for him and only written two other novels not including him. His writing I would compare very favourably with authors such as Peter Robinson or Stephen Booth.
I selected this book after reading the very impressive summary of the story on the rear of it. But to be honest I knew I wanted to read it when I heard saw it in the bookshop based simply on the enjoyment I have got from the previous stories. To start with I liked the title of the book and it immediately got me interested in it and I wanted to know what the author had in mind. It was the summary that really sold it and had me desperate to read the book as soon as I got home again. It wasn't the summaries length as it was quite short it was the quality of the ideas the author brought up that had me excited about reading it.
The book started in the most logical and sensible way given the summary I had just enjoyed. It began with a prologue that was admittedly only four pages long. But in that the author explained the background to the burning of the body in the car. He gave little away at this point about who carried it out or why and certainly immediately had a real sense of mystery about it. Recently I have read several crime books that had prologues that did not add anything in my opinion to the story but this one certainly did.
The story itself did not immediately start with the main story. Instead it dealt with the end of a previous investigation where DI Thorne is giving evidence at a mans trial. It was not related in any way to the real story and it certainly showed that Thorne was human. I liked this and it demonstrated to me how tough it is for Detectives to get things right and they way they are perceived by the public and press when things go wrong. For me it showed how hard the Police have to work to try and solve a mystery.
However the story soon moved on the Thorne being visited by the Private Detective and asked to help bring the supposed dead man back to Britain to be investigated. I found this immediately interesting, it was the quality of the writing and the way the author posed so many questions without even having to ask them about how this man 10 years ago had been identified as dead but know he was living it up with a great tan somewhere hot. It opened up a real can of worms and I like Thorne needed to know how this could possible happen, especially following the previous cases failure.
The story had a good flow about it and I enjoyed the way DI Thorne went about reopening the case and trying to find out who the dead man was ten years before. However he was quite often thwarted by someone who was always one step ahead of him and someone who seemed to be able to extend their reach without getting involved in the work themselves. I suppose if I have one criticism it would be it was fairly obvious who was behind what was happening so from that sense there was no mystery. It was just hard to see how DI Thorne and his team where going to crack this case as they constantly seemed up against it.
When Billingham creates a Tom Thorne thriller he brings far more than just an investigation into story. You get the background behind the characters, the politics of Police and many other concepts that helps the reader have a complete feel what it is like to be involved in it. For example in this story the Private Investigator Anna's private life is included and the doubts and problems she is experiencing. These ideas certainly add to the suspense in the story and help you to understand and relate to the characters within it.
At no point in the story was I not enjoying it or involved in it. I could not see how Thorne and his team could capture this very clever man. This excellent story was wrapped up with a very interesting and exciting conclusion that had lots of possibilities about what could happen. I found it all very realistic and it matched the story in its depth and quality. It left me feeling that I had read a complete story where the author had considered every aspect and made it realistic as possible.
One of the real beauties of this series is the wonderful lead character in Tom Thorne he has created. I find him a great character because is so easy to like, respect and relate to. I enjoy the way he goes about his work, how he treats and deals with his fellow officers and suspects. Plus I always enjoy the depths the author employs about his private life as there is always something interesting happening in it. He is supported by other well thought out and interesting characters. Even the sinister ones you can at least understand how they are thinking through good intelligent writing.
The length of the story was in truth on the long size at 468 pages. However, in my opinion this was completed justified because what we got was a excellent story for of great detail and an absorbing read. With it being broken up into 49 chapters so the scenes tended not to be too long so always keeping my interest, as I struggle with long drawn out scenes. Maybe an epilogue would have been a good idea as well, but instead of which we got the first Chapter of his next book. I must admit I choose not to read this as I didn't want to read this and get hooked as I am not yet ready for another DI Thorne roller coaster ride yet.
For me this was another excellent DI Thorne Detective story. I would certainly recommend it as I enjoyed it from the first to the last page. There is so much depth within these stories and they way it is skilfully written I almost feel I am working with the Detectives on the investigation. I certainly will be reading the next instalment in the series soon.
ISBN-15: 978 075154003
Year first published: 2010
More about the author: www.markbillingham.com
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS September 2012.