Death Message


Just too late for my holiday this year,
Mark Billingham has released another book about the exploits of Tom Thorne.
Regular readers of this magazine may recognise the name.
I'm a big fan of Inspector Thorne.
Clicking on the image will take you to Mark Billingham's website,
if you haven't already done it.
I recommend having a gander at Mark's website.
He's every bit as complex as Thorne in some ways.

Anyway, I was  really disappointed when I learned that Death Message wouldn't be available on my holiday.
There's always something very satisfying about sitting in a hotel room veranda in the hot sun 
(preferably in the morning) with a cup of coffee and a good book.

I've now read all the Thorne books, although not in chronological order.
Turns out that my favourite so far, "The Burning Girl" was the fourth, although I read it first.

Tom Thorne is not your normal type of detective.
Firstly, he evolves with each book.
He is complex, and very human.

Billingham is excellent and adept at creating believable characters.
This may well be because he is firstly a comic, and comics, put simply, are people who can see absurdities that we take for granted.
Take Thorne, he's a football supporter (Spurs), who's resigned to them getting beaten regularly.
He drives an old car, one that breaks down frequently and costs an awful lot of money.
He likes country music, cats (Elvis), and has a gay friend from work.
He's a policeman, but policemen are human too.
They have lots of failings as well.
I'd love to pontificate more about Thorne, but I might give the game away somewhere
about the ending of Death Message or spoil someone else's enjoyment  of the books
if they haven't already encountered some of them.

I wasn't too struck on the last novel "Buried" , although it got rave reviews.
I found Thorne quite restrained, which wasn't how I imagined  he would have reacted.

Death Message is another book, though.
The premise of the book is fairly simple.
Thorne is one of the, let me say, less technologically adept.
Modern technology is used, but haltingly by him.
Yes, he uses CDs, Mp3 players, mobile phones and a computer but, like most folk, learns to a level that gets him by.

Thorne starts to get picture messages sent to his mobile........
pictures of murdered people , to be more precise.
Since it is Billingham writing the book, it starts to get progressively worse.
The messages continue, but now, having got his attention, the pictures start to arrive before they are murdered.
Thorne, as I've said above, is very human.
He makes mistakes, and readers of previous Thorne novels will recognise that fact.
He makes another in this book.

There, hopefully, that will whet your appetite.
After my letdown with "Buried", this novel has restored my faith in Thorne.
It rockets into my  "best of " rankings of detective fiction.
It's another roaring tiger from Billingham and should help cement him in the booklists alongside Rankin and the like.

Buy the book or borrow it from the local library.
It's worth it!

As an aside, those who do decide to visit Billingham's website might notice that Thorne is being developed for television.
I share Billingham's unease and excitement.

I know how Thorne looks, I have a mental picture of him.
If he does end up on television, will he look anything like my image of him?

RIYAN Productions