Mark Billingham has created his own detective, Tom Thorne, and this book is the latest of his stories that I’ve read.
Thorne, like all good fictional cops, is a damaged character. His father was a regular character in the early books, and Jim Thorne was frequently a source of exasperation for a loving, but sometimes impatient son. When his father is killed it isn’t immediately clear whether he has been killed in revenge for Thorne getting his man in a previous book. In a later book, having started a relationship with a female police officer it falls apart under the pressures of the job they both do.
These dings and knocks form the backdrop for Thorne and his behaviour, and it probably helps to have been with Thorne for most of his previous stories.
In this book Thorne is called in to intervene in a hostage situation where a fellow policeman has been taken hostage by a distraught father whose son has apparently committed suicide in a youth offenders institute.
In a race against time Thorne has to re-investigate the sons death. It soon becomes clear that the boys death is not suicide, and the culprits have to be uncovered.
The story is pacey throughout, though the action never becomes confused. A whole slew of new characters are also introduced who could well serve again in future books (this has been a feature of the series so far).
I really enjoyed the book, an excellent addition to the series, and to be fair I have enjoyed all of its predecessors. I like the fact that Thorne clearly has a very strong sense of wrong and right, and is keen to stay in the right, but that he knows the world is not black and white, and that in the heat of the moment neither is he.