Tom Thorne is back in charge – but there’s a terrifying price to pay. Stuart Nicklin, the most dangerous psychopath he has ever put behind bars, promises to reveal the whereabouts of a body he buried twenty-five years before. But only if Thorne agrees to escort him.
Unable to refuse, Thorne gathers a team and travels to a remote Welsh island, at the mercy of the weather and cut off from the mainland. Thorne is determined to get the job done and return home before Nicklin can outwit them.
But Nicklin knows this island well and has had time to plan ahead. Soon, new bodies are added to the old, and Thorne finds himself facing the toughest decision he has ever had to make…
You know an author’s done his or her job when they set a book on a remote island and the overriding feeling you have when you put the book down for the final time is that you want to visit said island. That’s how I felt about Ynys Enlli – to us Welshmen – or Bardsey Island for the uninitiated! Despite the murderous theme and a serial killer haunting the local inhabitants the peaceful terrain and the blackest of night skies wins in the end. Who wouldn’t want to visit Bardsey after this?!
Mark Billingham is a master of crime fiction and given my bias regarding anything Welsh I was delighted that the majority of the book was set on an island which – according to ancient folklore – is the home to 20,000 saints and the remains of the legendary King Arthur. Whatever one believes setting a crime novel on an island with limited mobile phone signals, few residents and a lack of electricity is pure genius! But the thing is, it’s the kind of thinking you’d expect from Billingham. Thinking outside the box and a couple of miles off the mainland this latest Thorne novel simply delivers on multiple levels.
With notoriously dangerous currents and unpredictable weather, the crossing from Aberdaron is a challenge in itself. In the book you get a real sense of the short trip and the landing on the island and how a day trip can turn into an extended stay should the weather rear its ugly head. Atmospheric and punchy the narrative is typical Billingham. Easy to read and with a story that captures the imagination your journey is over before you know it.
Stuart Nicklin is back and you know that only means one thing to Thorne – bad news and sleepless nights. Ok for the pedantic among us that’s two things but I’m writing this article! Add to the mix a remote island with limited communications and a criminal who isn’t along just for the ride you know something’s about to happen and someone’s going to pay dearly for his temporary freedom from prison.
Following on from The Dying Hours, The Bones Beneath feels like a natural progression in Thorne’s life. Settled in a relationship and the responsibilities it carries, Thorne is determined to recover a body from the island, giving closure to the victim’s mother in the process and return home to enjoy an Indian takeaway. Things don’t quite work out that way and Thorne and his colleagues are forced to extend their stay on Bardsey. The author brings the island to life with a wonderfully evocative and enticing narrative that moves along at a fair rate of knots. Along with the odd twist the story is entertaining and completely satisfying with an ending that leaves the reader wanting more!
Breath-taking in parts, Bardsey Island comes alive thanks to an author at the top of his game.
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown (22 May 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 140870479X
- ISBN-13: 978-1408704790