This book was completely engrossing from start to finish. DC Tom Thorne and his team battling to catch not one serial killer, but two working as a team; albeit one of them unwillingly. A screenwriter would have little to do to translate this novel on to small or big screen as the style of writing lends itself seemlessly to a HSBC sponsored drama on ITV.
The story is told through frequent use of flashbacks, which are an extremely effective way of keeping the story fast-paced and on track whilst at the same time developing the characters of the killers.
Oh, and like me if you think you've pieced the puzzle together and with a blinding flash of light you've figured out who "he" is, then you'll be equally shocked with the twist in the tale.
Mark Billingham is a fresh talent to the very popular, and some would say saturated genre of murder, mystery. He immerses the reader from page one and does not let go.
One word of advice. Don't go walking alone for a few days after reading this one, as in your mind's eye you never quite know who's watching.
My only criticism of this story would be that it starts with a very slow pace, although it does pick up very well.
This was the 2nd of his books that I've read (the first being SLEEPY HEAD) and I will certainly aim to read the rest of this series.
Its plot follows the kind of formula known well to crime fiction readers - the fiendishly clever serial killer (this time there are two working together) pitted against the essentially good but flawed law enforcement officer determined to solve the case, and of course the twist at the end when you discover who the killer is.
The book is well paced and well written but perhaps its biggest failing is the author's failure to create truly interesting and believable characters. Although he does reasonably well with one or two of the main ones, a lot of the supporting cast never really feel like more than names on a page and some of the subplots surrounding them seem very cliched. Even at the end when I discovered the perpetrator of the crimes I was thinking more 'oh, of course' that 'wow, I would have never guessed'.
The book's cover contains a number of quotes praising the book (and isn't every crime thriller these days 'shocking', 'gripping', 'tense' etc etc) one of which likens the author to Ian Rankin and Val McDermid. In my opinion both those authors are vastly superior and far more masterful at creating engaging characters and original plotlines. I would recommend purchasing any title from either author or more particularly 'Along came a Spider' by James Patterson for a more thrilling and satisfying read.
I would not be surprised to see this book appear as a film or, more likely, a made for TV drama some time in the future. Like the book I am sure a lot of viewers will find it enjoyable but ultimately forgettable
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