Mark Billingham

From The Dead

"Billingham delivers in spades..."


Alan Langford was murdered 10 years previously. His wife Donna was jailed for conspiracy to murder for her part in organising his death. Langford's remains had been found in a burnt out car in the heart of the woods.

Days before she is released a photograph is sent anonymously to her. The picture shows her supposedly dead husband, alive and well. The private investigator she hired upon her release from prison is out of her depth and knows it, so she takes the case to Tom Thorne - the original investigating officer of Langford's murder. To make matters even worse her daughter Ellie has gone missing from her adoptive parents home.

Thorne has demons of his own to battle, and is soon drawn into a case where everything is different than first appearances would have you believe. His investigation has him travelling away from his usual London beat and into the bleak heart of darkness.

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Whenever you pick up a book by an author as accomplished and lauded as Mark Billingham you expect a cracking good read and yet again Billingham delivers in spades. The aftermath of Thorne's loss in Bloodline is hanging over his relationship with Louise, his Chief Super Trevor Jesmond is as odious as ever and he is starting to doubt whether he should remain on the force when he is presented with a case which if he solves it will only prove he made mistakes 10 years ago. The prose is typically 'Billinghamesque', there are wonderfully descriptive passages, tight plot explanations, irreverent thoughts portrayed and some laugh-out-loud moments to lift the gloom. As the plot unfurls you are drawn ever deeper into Thorne's world and the style of Billingham's writing perfectly matches the pace of the novel. He controls emotions in a way that is akin almost to an orchestral conductor. When he wants you to like someone, you do. When he wants you to dislike or suspect someone – you do; and you have little choice in the matter, such is his ingenious skill of subtly influencing the reader. The plot is carefully planned and you have to pay attention as none of the characters are ever what they seem. As the novel progresses the body count rises and From the Dead ends in a final stand-off easily as good, if not better than any of the other set pieces we have been treated to by Billingham in previous novels. Thorne is even more troubled than usual as he seeks to overcome the events in Bloodline, causing his despair to make him doubt himself even more than usual. Hendricks, however, is on hand to help him, yet he cannot help a problem that Thorne himself does not give face to. All of the other characters are drawn in the expert way that we have come to know and love and Thorne makes new friends and re-discovers faces from the past. Once I had read the first couple of pages of From the Dead, Tom Thorne and Mark Billingham conspired to kidnap me and I was only released when I turned the last page.

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