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From The Dead (Tom Thorne Novels) Paperback – 17 Mar 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (17 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075154003X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751540031
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Billingham is one of the UK's most acclaimed and popular crime writers. A former actor, television writer and stand-up comedian, his series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award as well as the Sherlock Award for Best British Detective and been nominated for seven CWA Daggers. His standalone thriller IN THE DARK was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, SLEEPYHEAD was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. Each of his novels has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

A television series based on the Thorne novels was screened in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne and series based on the standalone thrillers IN THE DARK and RUSH OF BLOOD are currently in development with the BBC.

Product Description

Amazon Review

When speaking to book groups, the author Mark Billingham displays the kind of sardonic humour that reflects his background in stand-up comedy. But his highly professional crime novels featuring DI Tom Thorne are quite unlike the humorous crime writing of such authors as Christopher Brookmyre. Books such as the latest Thorne, From the Dead, are odysseys into the darkest reaches of human behaviour. It's interesting that Billingham's books have a reputation for extreme violence, as they actually deal more in the purveying of atmosphere – a real sense of dread is unerringly conveyed to the reader.

A man is burnt to death in a car in Epping Forest, the victim of professional hitmen. The evidence suggest that the dead man’s wife, Donna Langford, hired the killers, and she is found guilty of conspiracy to murder. A decade passes, and just before her release from prison, Donna is sent a photo: it is that of her supposedly murdered spouse. Is he, in fact, dead? And if not, whose was the charred body in the burnt-out Jaguar? Shortly after, DI Tom Thorne is contacted by a woman, Anna Carpenter. Anna is making a living (and hating it) by working for a detective agency that cynically uses her as a ‘pretend prostitute’ to trap men into sexually compromising set-ups in divorce cases. Anna is on the side of the worried Donna Langford, and asks a reluctant Thorne for help. The detective is not to be persuaded – until he realises that the supposedly late Alan Langford is very much alive, and wants payback – in the worst way.

Mark Billingham is (as ever) to be applauded for the sheer readability of his work on From the Dead, but his most impressive achievement is the sure-footed orchestration of tension. He avoids artificially pushing Thorne into uncharactistic behaviour, and trusts that we will accept the familiar character tropes, delivered as effectively as ever. But if there are no surprises in the development of his main protagonist, Billingham’s real achievement here is in the creation of the vulnerable, compromised tyro detective, Anna – she’s a wonderful creation. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


'While Billingham has well and truly mastered the modern police procedural, the thing that sets him apart from the crowd is not just his emotional insight, but the way he invariably packs such a heart-wrenching punch... Billingham's most desperately gripping read yet (Mirror)

As fictional detectives go, Thorne is one of the most believable and Billingham's deserved status as a world-class crime fiction writer will surely be confirmed when a new television series based on some of his novels is aired this autumn (Daily Mail)

Billingham is well aware that we're au fait with most police procedural scenarios and is always working to ring clever and inventive changes on the formula...the tension is fine-tuned with all the usual skill (Daily Express)

Most fictional sleuths are flawed but invariably triumphant; Billingham is unusually willing to show his series hero making blunder after blunder (Sunday Times)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By John Grimbaldeston on 18 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a welcome addition to a consistently excellent series: the others I've listened to in the car on audio cd, this one I was persuaded to buy for the summer holidays, and the longer version is just as fast-paced and engrossing as the abridged audio versions. Perhaps the plot is a little cliched, a gangster believed dead who isn't really, but there is some development of the regular characters, and engaging newcomers in Anna Carpenter and stereotypical Yorkshireman, Andy Boyle, one of whom I hope we hear from again. What is nice about Thorne as a central character is that he is fallible - he admits to being wrong with a couple of first impressions of people, and the resolutions of the two crimes this book is concerned with, while final and relatively satisfying to the reader, are less than conventional and in no way suggest that Thorne's deductive powers are magical and his powers supernatural, as with many fictional detectives: he is just a morally grounded character, trying to do his best, to do what is right, but at the mercy of circumstance and the manipulative cleverness of those he hopes to bring to justice.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lizzie Hayes on 10 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
When Donna Langford receives a photograph of her husband Alan, she is understandably shocked as she has just served 10 years in prison for organising his murder. Not having any love for the police she seeks out a private detective and finds Anna Carpenter who is keen and enthusiastic - this is her first real case. But Anna is inexperienced and out of her depth and so she contacts the detective who handled the case ten years ago.

DI Tom Thorne is initially not interested, as he is caught up in the case of a missing girl and the prosecution of the man he is certain murdered her, but eventually with pressure from the top he commences an investigation constantly dogged by Anna.

Whilst the story line - faking ones own death is not new, I found the story engrossing. The characterisation is excellent. Tom Thorne, is not a hero, but a man trying to do a difficult job and maintain a relationship that he is not sure is going anywhere, but he is still hanging in. Anna Carpenter, an engaging character who bored with working in a bank threw it all up for excitement and ended up in a run-down detective agency. It's real it's what happens.

A page turner - yes, I had to sit up and finish it!
Lizzie Hayes
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 30 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
10 years ago Donna Langford was found guilty of hiring a hitman to kill her husband, Alan, whose remains were found in a burnt-out car. But just as she's about to be released from prison, she receives an anonymous letter containing a photo of her husband, who seems to be very much alive. Donna engages a seedy PI firm to find out who sent the letter and whether Alan is still alive. Anna Carpenter sees Donna's case as a way of being more than just a honey trap, but knows that if she's to get anywhere, she needs the help of Tom Thorne, who originally investigated the case.

Thorne though has problems of his own. His team's just lost a high-profile case of murder because they couldn't find the victim's body. Now the victim, a known sex-offender, is seeking to use the case to attack the police. He's reluctant to get involved in what was an open-and-shut case but Anna's convinced that there's something else going on and her youth, enthusiasm and attractiveness persuade him to take a second look. The deeper they dig however, the more deaths start to mount and soon their own lives are put at risk ...

The 9th in Mark Billingham's Thorne series is a reflective affair. Thorne feels compelled to re-examine an old case at the same time as he's re-considering his relationship with Louise, which remains shaky following her miscarriage. Always prone to introspection, the relationship re-evaluation was true to Thorne's character but whereas previously it's been offset by his banter with Phil Hendricks (still my favourite character) here the humour is more muted and I missed it. At the same time Thorne's tempted by the vibrant Anna, seeing something in her that he misses in himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By OEJ TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Somehow, this is the ninth in the DI Tom Thorne series - doesn't time fly. I still think the author has yet to top his first, though (Sleepyhead), for creativity, but for professional style and flair this is a well-rounded and polished effort.

The main story is about a woman released from prison ten years after being found guilty of conspiring to murder her gangster husband, whose body was found in a burnt-out Jaguar. Very soon she starts receiving photographs of him taken recently, showing him to be very much alive and well. At first the 'widow' appoints a flaky and amateurish private investigator to find out what's going on, and to find her missing teenage daughter who had been in foster care during the imprisonment period. It's not long before Thorne gets involved, still smarting from what he and his colleagues perceive as a miscarriage of justice in an unrelated missing teenager investigation and murder trial. The 'undead' gangster appears to be living it large in Spain, so that's where Thorne heads, helped by the Spanish Guardia Civil.

It's a good story and well-told, with interesting sub-strands such as Thorne's relationship with his live-in girlfriend Louise, but it's a little light on tension or suspense. Not much in the way of mystery or thrills either, come to think about it. Deep into the novel, I realised that what few unanswered questions that still prevailed boiled down to these: Who sent the photographs, and why? And that was rather unimportant anyway, and predictable as it turned out. So what this tale depended on, as is often the case with crime fiction series, was the enigmatic draw of its leading character Tom Thorne.
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