Time of Death
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown
23 April 2015
Difficult to believe as it might be, but Mark Billingham’s thirteenth Tom Thorne novel, Time of Death, takes the series up to an entirely different level thanks – chiefly – to its fabulous character interaction, beautifully drawn descriptive prose and more than a dash of delicately dripped devilment.
Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks – Thorne’s partner and fellow police officer – grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried.
The joy of Tom Thorne lies in his ability to be both curmudgeonly and caring within a gnat’s breath of each other. This innate capability is a result of his creator being able to fully engage with what makes his protagonist tick and, the more Billingham chips away at Thorne’s psyche, the more is revealed in a way in which other authors must truly envy. This is particularly true because, as the author has done with his previous novel, The Bones Beneath, Thorne is taken out of his comfort zone ... the city of London ... and placed in surroundings he generally loathes.
Indeed, on occasion, it is rather like witnessing Bear Grylls in an office wearing a suit and tie, such is the DCI’s discomfort at finding himself in small town Warwickshire, surrounded by nothing but gossips, rain and fields.
However, it is not only Thorne who captivates here, but the whole cast of peripheral characters who collectively make the entire story a complete whole, at a pace that starts burning slower than might be expected but which soon ignites into a veritable inferno that will be impossible to extinguish until the final denouement is reached ... which in itself will have readers begging for more.
Tight, graphic and – above all – deliciously crafted, Mark Billingham’s Time of Death is everything fans of Tom Thorne – and the crime genre entire – could wish for and a whole lot more.