Mark Billingham

Good As Dead

"..confirms Billingham’s standing as one of the best authors the UK has to offer."


The Hostage Police officer Helen Weeks is in her local newsagent while heading to work. This is the last place she expects violence to rear its ugly head until she is confronted by a gunman.

The Demand The insane hostage taker is desperate to uncover the truth behind his son's death while in a young offender's institution. By holding a police officer hostage the gunman forces his son's arresting officer to re-investigate his son's death. The officer is DI Tom Thorne.

The Twist Helen is fighting to survive as the body count rises and Thorne has to race against the clock to bring the killer to justice and save the life of a young mother.

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Billingham brings back Helen Weeks from his standalone “In The Dark” to join in the latest Tom Thorne case. She gives another dimension to the book in that she adds the female perspective to events and as a police hostage provides insights into both the role of the hostage and that of a police officer trying to keep their captor calm. As ever, Tom Thorne is the real star of the book and he brings his usual caring and unflinching attitude to the fore as Billingham once again puts him through hell. Javed Akhtar, Sue Pascoe, Bob Chivers and the usual cast members are all drawn with the same excellent skill we have grown used to, but Thorne and Helen are the characters who really draw the reader into the story. Over the years as I have followed Tom Thorne's adventures I have found myself really caring for him in a way that few other characters evoke. As a reviewer I feel I should be able to pinpoint the reason for this in a sharp succinct way. Sadly all I can say is he is made so real by the author's consummate penmanship that he feels more like a friend than anything else. The pace has been ramped up in comparison to other of Thorne's cases and Billingham manages to achieve a much faster adrenaline-filled novel which has a marvellously simple structure that becomes more twisted as every chapter goes by and as Thorne follows down each lead. The ending is a masterpiece of crime fiction writing and confirms Billingham's standing as one of the best authors the UK has to offer.

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