The Bones Beneath
May 22, 2014
Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne is one of Crime Fiction’s strongest, most clearly defined protagonists, yet has never been so forcefully depicted as he is within the pages of The Bones Beneath and the manner in which the author has managed to summon such tension into almost every word, leaves it nothing short of being a master class in the art of writing the psychological thriller.
Stuart Nicklin is the most dangerous man Thorne has ever put away and, now, for reasons unknown, is ready to reveal – subject to certain conditions – where the missing body of his thus far undiscovered victim is buried. That it is on a remote Welsh island brings its own particular problems to the search, but there are the other more puzzling elements to Nicklin’s demands that worry Thorne.
This is a novel quite unlike any other that Mark Billingham has written. Okay, so his books are renowned for their unrelenting pace, descriptive dexterity and superb story telling but, with The Bones Beneath, he has gone a step beyond that of the usual and made the surroundings in which the action takes place a living, breathing character that emboldens each act, and so provides a depth that is more tactile – more disturbing – than anything he has written before.
Of course, it helps when the author gets under the skin of his antagonists as well as he does his heroes and, in Stuart Nicklin, Billingham has created such a disturbingly “normal” psychopath with such clarity – a man so woefully bereft of remorse – it is as though he’s in the room with you.
Packed with incident, intrigue, beautifully crafted prose, pace, emotion and – above all – a story so rich in its telling, Mark Billingham’s The Bones Beneath is a work of such Crime Fiction intelligence it becomes something irresistible once the opening page has been devoured.