Select one of the keywords
Death Message    by Mark Billingham order for
Death Message
by Mark Billingham
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

The winner of the 2009 Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award, this latest Tom Thorne thriller is also being made into a television show to be aired in Great Britain early in 2010.

Detective Investigator Thorne is a bit taken back to discover the blurred image of a dead man's face on his cell phone. As the technical experts try to trace the sender, another picture arrives and then another. With the body count mounting rapidly, Thorne is able to link the source of the pictures to an old adversary - an ex-con the DI sent to prison.

Further links to a notorious biker gang and the Turkish Mafia cloud the investigation and complicate what is already a very puzzling case. As a departmental investigation from Scotland Yard's internal affairs branch adds to Thorne's frustration and makes his life more hectic, another cell phone photo nearly sends him over the edge. The killer has just sent the detective a picture of someone he knows and now time has become of the utmost importance.

A riveting case with more quirks and surprises than any of its predecessors, this latest Tom Thorne adventure testifies to not only Mark Billingham's skill as a mystery writer but also his ability to keep refining his work. He's managed to squeeze every bit of suspense and drama imaginable out of this novel. No wonder it won one of Britain's top crime novel of the year awards.

2nd Review by Hilary Williamson:

Mark Billingham's Death Message, seventh (following Buried) in his Detective Inspector Tom Thorne mysteries, opens with just that - Thorne receives an anonymous text message, with a photograph of what looks like a murder victim. Why was he killed and why send the image to Tom?

It's complicated - naturally, in a Tom Thorne case. The killings (which continue, with further previews) are soon linked to Marcus Brooks, just released from prison after serving six years for a murder he claimed he was set up for by two coppers. Why is he slaughtering Black Dogs (members of a biker gang) and others connected to the case?

Brooks has a strong revenge motive as the gang killed his girlfriend and small son in a hit-and-run just before his release. But there's a lot more to this story, much of it engineered by Stuart Nicklin - the psychopath Thorne put behind bars for multiple murders pulls strings from inside his prison cell.

Tom, still grieving over his father's death, is in a relationship with DI Louise Porter (met in Buried), though their work schedules often make it hard to find time for each other. Tom's personal life becomes messily intertwined with the case. He takes action that puts his career at risk, and the Anti-Corruption Group (who deal with serious crimes involving Met officers) is already sniffing around.

As always, Mark Billingham delivers a meticulously plotted British police procedural, one in which Tom Thorne once more crosses a line he's crossed before when 'Psychopaths, sadists, users of children' were involved. Anglophile mystery fans should not miss Death Message.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews