The Murder Book
reviewed by Carolyn Scott
At the opening of this eighteenth novel in the series, DI Tom Thorne is in a good place. He’s been unlucky in love in the past, but now he has a promising relationship with forensic psychologist Melita Perera.
She talks to him about the more unusual of her patients and he in turn keeps her up to date with his cases. When he’s not with Melita, he enjoys socialising with his friends and colleagues DI Nicola Tanner and pathologist Phil Hendricks. He feels like the nightmares of the past have receded, but in fact they’re about to come flooding back with a vengeance.
When Tom and Nicola are called out to a grisly murder of a middle-aged man, they find evidence that he was entertaining someone in the bedroom while his wife was away, suggesting the killer is a woman. Two further murders point to a female serial killer being on the loose in London. Not only were all three men apparently entertaining an unknown woman before they were killed, but all three were mutilated after death. Now Tom and Nicole are racing to catch her before she kills again. When they do eventually catch up with her, she has a message to deliver to Tom from someone he hoped never to hear from again.
Unknown to Tom, someone has been watching him. Someone from his past who he was forced to let escape from custody in order to save lives. A depraved killer, who now knows where Tom lives and all about the new woman in his life, and is somehow able to stay one step ahead of Tom. He also knows the horrific secret Tom, Nicola and Phil have been keeping that would end all their careers if revealed to the world. Now they and all those close to them are in danger from this master manipulator.
One of the strengths of this series is the continuing development of the main characters and their ongoing lives woven around a compelling mystery. They know each other well now, as evidenced by their sharply humorous, sometimes quite dark, banter and in this novel their ongoing support of each other is central to the plot.
This excellent thriller is brilliantly plotted with the suspense ramping up rapidly towards the chilling climax. I for one was totally unprepared for the massive twist that Billingham throws at us. It was stunning and cleverly done. The prologue and epilogue neatly bookending the novel are also superb and guaranteed to generate a gleeful laugh from the reader as poetic justice is dealt. Highly recommended for all fans of the authors and those discovering him for the first time.
With thanks to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for a copy to read.
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