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Bloodline    by Mark Billingham order for
by Mark Billingham
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Mulholland, 2011 (2011)
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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Mark Billingham's Bloodline is the 8th in his series starring Murder Squad Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, who is now well settled in a relationship with Kidnap Unit's DI Louise Porter (whom he first met in Buried). Sadly, as this episode opens, Louise has a miscarriage.

The author fuels the reader's curiosity at the beginning by introducing a mother, Debbie, and her nine-year old son Jason, 'Who will almost certainly never be able to feed or dress himself.' In flight from relentless pursuit, they climb a bridge over train tracks. A train approaches - what will they do?

Thorne is called from Louse's hospital bed to the first crime scene. He learns that the victim's mother was murdered by a previous serial killer, Raymond Garvey, who ended seven women's lives. More corpses are found, all the offspring of Garvey's victims and all with a scrap of X-ray in their possession. It becomes a race against time to track down the remaining targets before a very clever killer does.

As always in a Billingham mystery, there are sharp twists and turns to the plot and plenty of surprises. Thorne's best friend, gay pathologist Phil Hendricks, aids in the investigation and also helps Tom understand his feelings about the baby. Phil has this to say about serial killers: 'It's not the killers themselves anyone's really frightened of. It's not knowing why they did it, where the next one's coming from, that terrifies people.'

In Bloodline, Mark Billingham gives fans another meticulously plotted British police procedural that's hard to second guess. Tom Thorne, a policeman who cares about victims of crime, is an engaging lead - highly recommended.

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