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In The Dark

By Ian Urie


As you may have realised by now, I like books by Mark Billingham.
His maverick alter ego, Detective Tom Thorne, the world weary , rebellious of authority, cynical police officer
may not seem to be the freshest approach to the crime novel genre, but read one of the books and you'll be hooked.
In fact, click on the picture of the book cover and you'll go to his website.
You can download a chapter of the book there, might save me some typing.

Billingham, however, decided this time to try a stand alone novel, not another Thorne novel.
Incidentally, Death Message, his latest Thorne episode, must be one of the best novels he has written.

However, this novel does not have Thorne as the main character.
This time it is the extremely pregnant Helen Weeks.

As with all the Billingham novels, it gets slightly complicated here......
Helen is, as I said, very pregnant.
She stays with her policeman boyfriend, who might not be the father of her baby.
Turns out she had an affair, and then the boyfriend found out.
As you might imagine, this has not had the effect of bringing them closer together.

Her life goes into a tailspin  after the boyfriend gets killed on a night out, when an out of control car  crashes into a bus stop he's waiting at.


Of course, then Billingham goes to work.
The accident might not be as straightforward as first it seemed.

I won't (hopefully) spoil the novel, but let's start with an ongoing investigation of corruption within the police force,
a crack dealing gang, major London crime lords protecting turf and honour and a woman determined to find the truth.

As someone who has had to live with a pregnant woman (sorry,dear), I feel Billingham captures the mood swings, anxieties and panics admirably.
Combine this with his usual convoluted plot line, and sub plots running concurrently and it's a feast of seedy detail and accurate realisation of modern Britain mores.

It's another tour de force from Billingham and surely must be accelerating him up the ranks of the modern crime writer's leagues.

As usual, there's a twist at the end of the novel, and a bitter sweet ending reflecting life is not always pleasant and even roses have thorns.

Speaking of Thorne, he does have a cameo in the book, although I missed it completely.
I went back through the book until I found it and then realised how fiendish Billingham really is.
Suffice to say that if you are a fan of Thorne, you'll be really interested in the cameo!
I can guarantee it will have a major effect on the next novel.
Go on, I've dribbled on long enough, go down to the library and get your hands on Billingham's books and read them.
An excellent British author who's currently out performing most of the other "top" names.

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