Published by Little Brown – out now!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every Thorne novel by Mark Billingham since first meeting him and picking up a copy of Sleepyhead at a Crime Writing Masterclass at the London Book Fair years back, and also loved his stand-alone novel, In The Dark (in which Thorne also appeared but not as the central character).
The Thorne books are a very strong series and have developed a strong group of supporting characters who can carry off entire scenes with or without Thorne at the helm now.
To me, a Thorne book feels like slipping on your favourite pair of shoes, you know you’re pretty much in your comfort zone, but there’s still a high risk that you could step into something very nasty and unexpected during the walk.
In a very smart move and set over three action packed days for his series character DI Tom Thorne, Mark Billingham has brought back the popular Police Officer Helen Weeks from his hugely successful standalone novel, In the Dark, and provided a book with double the punch.
And that ‘punch’ takes many forms; in its action, its emotion and in its skill as a great page turning crime novel for which only sleep required me taking a break and spreading it into two sittings rather than one.
Finding herself in the line of fire when taken hostage in her local newsagents by the last person she expected to be a threat to her after it’s discovered what she does for a living, Helen is faced with a man determined to find out the truth behind the death of his son.
I’m purposefully avoiding using too many names here, and am finding this a difficult book to review as there are plenty of surprises along the way which I don’t want to spoil for readers.
The young man the father wants to find out the truth about was found dead whilst in the care of a Young Offenders Institute, his being there following a case originally run by Tom Thorne.
And so begins a fantastically plotted book in which both of the author’s most popular creations are in constant dialogue as hostage and outside Police investigator, with Thorne on the chase for the answers he has promised the dead boy’s father.
I loved the fact that Thorne spots a helicopter overhead at the hostage location and assumes it’s a Police chopper until he realises it’s actually a SKY chopper (a hint at his television persona I’m sure).
The tight narrative and timescale and the fact that for this story Thorne has been brought across to South London, Tulse Hill (not too far from my home), makes for what I honestly think is the best Thorne to date and the combination of Thorne and Weeks could be a great continuance of the series if that’s the direction it takes.
An interesting sidebar is the fact that the Sky TV series THORNE has been a huge success with a second series now in development, but the first book to feature Helen Weeks, In The Dark, has been optioned for development by the BBC .
When Good As Dead comes up for the television treatment (as it’s certain to do) it could be an interesting scenario as to which TV company claims it.
If you haven’t read a Thorne book yet – have no fear, you can jump right in here without any major character backstory concerns or spoiler worries – but, I would warn you that once you’ve read this you’ll want to read all the others too – so, you’d best invest in the whole series.
With Billingham and Thorne you know you’re in safe hands and in for a fantastic time.
And, you can get to meet Mark and a whole host of others in the very best in crime fiction at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival in July when he returns to chair the tenth anniversary event !