I always like when a crime writer known for a bestselling series tries their hand at a stand alone novel. A series, especially a long running one, can start to either feel formulaic or the stakes have to keep getting raised each time that it begins to verge on the unbelievable. A stand alone can break the reader and the writer out of the mould and more often than not leads to something fresh and interesting. It is also a great way for new readers to discover a crime author who may be intimidated about committing to a whole series.
This is Mark Billingham’s second stand alone effort from the Thorne series and like In The Dark his writing and the structure he adopts is very different. We go outside the world of Thorne and other policeman and Billingham has to create three very different couples. He also updates the classic holiday whodunit. But instead of couples being away at an old English estate the book centres on three couples holidaying in Florida. The only thing they really have in common is that they’re all British but they fast become friends. On their last night in Florida a young girl goes missing and is later found murdered. This shared event brings the six of them closer together and on returning to Britain they begin meeting regularly for dinner where their conversations invariably leads back to events in Florida. But when another girl goes missing in similar circumstances, this time in Britain, suspicions fall on one of them. Only which one is capable of such a horrible crime? And how well do they really know each other?
The story is told from each of the 6 holiday makers’ perspective as well as the detective in Florida in charge of the first case and his British counterpart. You’re also taunted by the unknown killer but Mark Billingham manages to keep you guessing until the final pages. The ending is not what you’re expecting and there’s a nod to Thorne fast thrown in too. If you haven’t read Mark Billingham before, give him a try with this book and then you might give the Thorne series a go too.
Classification: Crime & mystery
Format: Paperback (203mm x 128mm x 30mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 25-Apr-2013
Country of Publication: United Kingdom