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Billingham, Mark - 'From the Dead'
Hardback: 368 pages (Aug. 2010) Publisher: Little, Brown ISBN: 1408700751

Donna Langford was sentenced to 12 years in prison for arranging to have her husband Alan killed. Now released, she has received photographs showing him very much alive. She employs Anna Carpenter a young girl who is assistant to a seedy private investigator, to find out where her husband is. Also her 18- year-old daughter has gone missing from her foster parents, and she suspects her husband has kidnapped her. Anna is out of her depth so turns to the police, and DI Tom Thorne is given the case. He is still depressed that a case concerning the murder of a missing girl has resulted in the defendant being found not guilty. He is also concerned that his relationship with his partner Louise Porter is floundering.

Thorne interviews the man Donna paid to murder her husband, Paul Monahan who is still in prison, to try and find out who was murdered in Langford's place. Shortly after Monahan is killed and another prisoner and a prison officer are implicated. It becomes obvious that Alan Langford will stop at nothing to prevent himself being arrested. Thorne, as usual, is ably assisted by DI Yvonne Kitson, DS Dave Holland, DCI Russell Brigstock and good friend Pathologist Phil Hendricks. The action takes place mainly in London and Wakefield, Yorkshire and the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. There is a very interesting description of a fiesta week of religious processions in the hill town of Mijas. Thorne must be at his best to outwit the long term planning of a desperate man; the key to the case is identifying who the murdered man in the burnt out car was.

This is the ninth Tom Thorne novel (if you disregard IN THE DARK where he played a bit part) and the author has established a likeable and human character and each new book is eagerly awaited by his many fans. His research and plotting is excellent, however there always seems an element of the books which stretches credulity. In this one, Thorne's superior requests him to allow Anna Carpenter to shadow the investigation. This is explained away by the fact that there was no DNA taken of the murdered man - because Donna identified him as her husband - and they don't want Anna to go to the media. But I doubt that this would happen in life. It is however up to the usual high standard and is a very good read. The first two books in the series are to be shown on tv this autumn, with David Morrissey as Tom Thorne, however for me they will never rival the excitement and suspense and the interest in the characters' relationships that the books bring.

Geoff Jones, England
October 2010

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 10/10/2010 14:15