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The Murder Book by Mark Billingham: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: The Murder Book

Author: Mark Billingham

Publisher: Little, Brown

Format: Print, ebook, audiobook

Genre: Crime fiction/murder mystery

Publication Date: 2022

Star Rating: 5/5

Some crime fiction is heavy on police procedural and forensic detail experience.

The Murder Book by Mark Billingham is at the more accessible end of the spectrum, with a great deal of focus on the psychology behind the killings.

Since this is the latest in a string of ‘Tom Thorne and Nicola Tanner’ books, there is also plenty of ongoing interest in the detectives’ personal lives and their history of romances and friendships.

DI Tom Thorne is assigned with DI Nicola Tanner to the brutal murder of Richard Sumner.

Richard had taken a young woman out for dinner behind his wife’s back on Saturday night and, when he brought the woman back to his house, she murdered him.

In the process, she cut off his ears.

The crime scene is messy not just in terms of blood but also in terms of DNA evidence being left behind.

Richard’s computer and mobile were also left at his home, making it easier for Tom and Nicola to trace how he met the woman.

It almost feels like she wants to get caught…

Soon after, student Hari Redding is found dead by his flatmate in a similar situation, except that his tongue was cut out.

The detectives begin to wonder whether they are onto a ‘See no, hear no, speak no evil’ serial killer.

Except that the ‘See no evil’ body hasn’t been found.

Old sins cast shadows over Tom, Nicola and their friend and colleague, pathologist Phil Hendricks.

The trio have previously covered up a crime committed by Nicola, so their mutual trust is fragile and their consciences remain troubled.

With the arrest of a young woman for the three murders comes the dawning realisation that an old and worthy adversary is back in the game.

I enjoyed The Murder Book very much. The plot moved on nicely from the young woman’s arrest and detention to the identity of her mentor and their relationship with Tom, Phil and Nicola.

There was plenty of action arising out of police attempts to lure the mentor out into the open, and from his efforts to silence the young woman inside prison.

The past hung over The Murder Book, but the details were clearly described and I had no trouble following how they related to current crimes.

The story kept me hooked right up to the end, and there was a great cliff hanger with a cracking plot twist that I only very partially saw coming.

Tom, Phil and Nicola were all complex but relatable characters, which you really need in detectives and (to some extent) in a pathologist. As professionals, they go through hell and their dysfunctions (mostly Tom) were entirely understandable. There’s a grand tradition in crime fiction of dysfunctional detectives, so I was satisfied with that approach. Nicola and Phil have faced more external challenges, so this was a well-crafted balance between them and Tom.

I would definitely recommend The Murder Book. The experienced hand of Mark Billingham made this a great reading experience.

The Tom Thorne and Nicola Tanner series is well established, with two stories being adapted for Sky with David Morrissey as Thorne (‘Thorne’) in 2010.

Thank you for reading my review.

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John C Adams Reviews The Murder Book

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