A cluster of suicides among the elderly. Such things are not unknown to the police and the deaths are quickly dismissed by the police as routine. Only one man is convinced that something more sinister is taking place.
However, no one listens to Tom Thorne anymore. Having stepped out of line once too often, he’s back in uniform and he hates it. Patronised and abused by his new colleagues, Thorne’s suspicions about the suicides are dismissed by the Murder Squad he was once part of and he is forced to investigate alone.
Unable to trust anyone, Thorne must risk losing those closest to him. He must gamble with the lives of those targeted by a killer unlike any he has hunted before. A man with nothing to lose and a growing list of victims. A man with the power to make people take their own lives.
There’s a reason why Mark Billingham is one of the most acclaimed and popular writers in crime fiction today – he’s bloody good. Simples! He never fails to impress and with this, the third title I’ve had the pleasure of reading, he continues to grow both in character development and stature as a prolific storyteller.
The Dying Hours introduces us to a new Thorne. Although still an inspector our intrepid and maverick protagonist is back in a shiny uniform thanks to his actions in Good as Dead and he’s anything but happy. Forced out of the Murder Squad he’s back to riding in the area car, unusual shift patterns and paperwork. What’s not to like?!
Although he has always been portrayed as a loose cannon Thorne has always had the backing of his team – to a point! He’s had someone to call on, support his decisions and colleagues only too happy to help and be at his beck and call. No more, at least not in this book, and it was rather refreshing to see a slightly different side to the Inspector. He calls on those he believes he can trust but not before being shunned by his former colleagues and superiors. Thorne is out on a limb and that limb is about to be severed.
The usual gang are back and although they offer support at arm’s length to Thorne they don’t like it. Fearful of their jobs the interplay and angst among the cast is great to see and experience as a reader.
But for me The Dying Hours is all about Thorne and the underlying anger he faces daily from within, coming to terms with his demotion and new relationship. Sure there’s the small issue of a killer on the loose to complicate matters but the enjoyment I took from this book was thanks to Thorne’s predicament and a side of him we rarely experience.
Told at breakneck speeds the book is a very quick and entertaining read. Billingham is at the top of his game and I thoroughly enjoyed how he took the book in one direction and then another allowing the reader to feel as if they are participating in both the detection and thrill of the chase.
A very well thought out police procedural, great characterisation and a storyline that keeps you entertained and engaged. Don’t get me started with the final sentence; I want to know what happens next. You’ve got to love a cliff-hanger! Excellent.
- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown (23 May 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847444237
- ISBN-13: 978-1847444233