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3.9 out of 5 stars
Rush of Blood
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2013
Oh Mr Billingham .. you tempting little tinker, throwing your Thorne morsels around & then leaving us wondering & wanting more ... Well, read this and you'll understand that !! What a great story and the set-up of the book itself is superb .. short, sharp chapters all interspersed with e-mail's succeed in keeping the story moving & the blood flowing .. all the characters compliment each other nicely and the dangling back stories are a compliment to the intelligence of the reader .... the premise of bonding on holiday, the dreaded " let's keep in touch " actually becoming a reality, only to reveal true personalities & dark flaw's instead of the sun-soaked & sangria'd up one's presented abroad.... very good & a great build up to a fantastically realised end with a little sniff of Thorne to boot ... the boy done good ...
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 August 2012
From the outset I will say that I am a steadfast fan of Mr Billingham, having read all the books, having watched the excellent TV adaptations and yes I probably would buy the T-shirt, but overall I found this a curious and unsettling departure of style for him.

The story opens in Florida as three British couples find themselves implicated in the disappearance of a teenage girl, Amber-Marie Wilson from their holiday resort. She is later discovered murdered. On their return to the UK the couples resume contact with one another over a series of meetings and meals which exposes the quirks and frailties of their personal relationships heightened by the fact that another young girl goes missing in similar circumstances to the Florida case. Jenny Quinlan, a young trainee detective is tasked with investigating them as the Trans-Atlantic connection becomes evident and puts them under scrutiny in a bid to expose their darkest secrets and to catch a killer or killers...

For my part, I did enjoy the Florida-based sections of the book more with the beautifully drawn account of Patti Wilson's heartache and sense of loss over the murder of her daughter and the depiction of Detective Jeffrey Gardner in charge of the US investigation, a focused and likeable character who liaises with his British counterpart the equally focused and ambitious Quinlan. I appreciate that having set the premise that by default all of the couples are under suspicion and that they should appear to a certain degree to be unlikeable, but I feel that Billingham pushes this too far and that as a reader you begin not to care `whodunnit' or indeed why, such is the harshness of the characterisation and it felt at times more caricature than characterisation. With the grand reveal (which I guessed- humph!) the motivation for these crimes seems a trifle implausible in the light of the characterisation up to this point and despite a plot punctuated by vignettes of narration by the perpetrator it all seemed a tad...well...unbelievable and all a bit obvious as to how the court scene at the end would play out. It's interesting to see that this is being marketed as having a more `unisex' appeal as I did at times lose sight of the fact that I was reading a Mark Billingham book and thought I had wandered extraneously into a Sophie Hannah book- which admittedly is not always a bad experience- but felt a little strange!

As much as it pains me to say it this was indeed a book of two halves with the American plot-line more reminiscent of Billingham's ease of characterisation and fluidity of style than the slightly less plausible nature and `clunky' characterisation of the British plot. An interesting experiment I feel but rather relieved that it is just a stand-alone...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2012
Other reviewers have said in detail more or less what I felt about this book. I can see what Mark Billingham was trying to achieve, but I don't think he quite made it. I found that I really did want to know the `truth', so I persevered to the end, but found it rather hard going at times. The three couples involved are just too ghastly and grotesque, the dialogue too tedious (I assume the inclusion of every banal and inconsequential exchange of words was designed to lay yet more red herrings on the trail, but oh dear...), the switches of tense too forced. I agree that, from a new author without an established reputation, this would have struggled for publication, without radical editing at least.

I am greatly looking forward to the next Tom Thorne novel, with Mark Billingham back in the genre at which he excels.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2013
As a Mark Billingham fan...even more so a Tom Thorne fan...I was interested to read another of his standalone novels (having previously enjoyed In the Dark).

From the cover blurb, it seemed like Rush of Blood would be a different type of book, not a detective story but still a mystery novel all the same.

And it was different - the writing style seemed different, still dark and gritty but lacking the sardonic humour, in the main. The characters were unsympathetic and unlikeable, which did heighten the mystery element as you could imagine that any one of them could perform an unspeakable act but also didn't give you someone to root for. Even the police were generally self serving.

I think there were hints into each of the characters' backstories but these weren't fully developed (I suppose to keep the reader guessing) and this made the book feel slightly unfinished.

I won't go into the story more, as I wouldn't want to spoil it but I would say that overall it was an easy read, which made me want to keep going to the end and was twisty enough for me not to guess the outcome.

I would recommend the book but feel that it doesn't compare to the Thorne novels (that character could've livened things up a little but I guess he would've worked things out too easily )

SPOILERS..........

After a decent enough book, the ending is where things fell down and why I wouldn't recommend more highly - after a decent build up, the actual ending felt rushed and the killer's motive was rather unbelieveable and frankly a bit daft. There was a little cameo for Thorne fans, which revealed a little interesting detail which presumably will lead on to the next book.
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64 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Are you allowed to keep saying that an author's latest book is his best yet? Every time? Well, it's true in the case of Mark Billingham. Since he's spread out beyond the Tom Thorne series, his writing seems to continually get better and better. Rush of Blood is another standalone that refers to DI Thorne only in passing and as a matter of form (for those wondering what might have happened to him after his actions at the end of Good as Dead), the author instead delving into new directions on a case that relates to the kidnapping of a child in Florida. Even more impressive is Billingham's take on the whodunit crime sub-genre, delivering a book that meets every requirement for an unputdownable page-turning thriller, while at the same time providing the author with a new angle from which he can approach certain familiar themes.

The disappearance of a young child from a holiday resort will have a recognisable familiarity and topicality, but Billingham ties it brilliantly into a tradition that is just as well-recognised which allows him to play to his real strengths of delving into those particularly British attitudes and behaviours in relation to crime. Three British couples, at the Florida holiday resort at the time of the disappearance, actually follow up those promises to meet up again and take it in turns to invite each other over for dinner when they get back home. Obviously they have the case to discuss in common, but just as predictably the differences between them lead to tensions over the course of the meetings, particularly when a trainee detective constable conducts some follow-up interviews with them for the Florida police investigation.

With simple direct writing, Billingham lays bare these individuals and couples brilliantly and insightfully, with a keen eye for character, and with witty, disturbing and revealing exchanges of dialogue between them. It's more than just character development however and more than just using the cringing banality of dinner parties to heighten the tensions between these people, any one of which could potentially be involved in the crime (or not) - even though on those fronts alone this is wonderfully thrilling and entertaining writing. Through it however Billingham is also able to explore the dynamic between different sections of the British working middle classes, between men and women, and the need they feel to play or be defined by certain roles in society. He's particularly brilliant at showing what brings out the worst in people, and how closely that is related to criminal behaviour. It's scary how ordinary and recognisable these characters are, yet how easily those flaws and foibles within their nature and in what defines them can potentially lead to the most dangerous and damaging actions against others.

Billingham has always been good at that, but he's particularly brilliant here in Rush of Blood. He does perhaps play to the conventions of the genre and feel the need to be a little more clever than necessary with the conclusion, but in doing so without invalidating the character development and the meticulously laid-out crime procedural elements that make this a terrific and insightful read, he demonstrates just how good a writer he has become. This is British crime writing at its very best.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2012
Rush of Blood is Mark's second standalone novel (he's written nine in the popular and terribly good series featuring DI Tom Thorne). For this one, he's spread his wings a bit, moving away (initially, at least) from the London setting of his other books to kick things off in the USA.

The plot centres around three British couples who meet on holiday in sun-drenched Florida. As UK holiday makers tend to do, they hang out together and swap contact details, fully expecting never to hear from each other ever again. However, the last day of their holiday is marred by the disappearance from their resort of a young girl with learning disabilities. The local police interview the couples and decide to let them return home.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the disturbing end to their stay in paradise, the couples exchange emails and end up arranging to meet for the first in a series of increasingly strained and unpleasant dinner parties. As time progresses, and the situation in Florida develops into a murder investigation, the stress of having to confront events that they'd all rather forget about causes tensions to rise and a supporting cast of skeletons to come tumbling out of various closets.

It's an unusual book, in some ways. For a thriller, there's not a huge amount of action - no car chases, no desperate races against time, no fight scenes. Tension is maintained through a gradual drip-feed of detail and the suspense comes from the slow unravelling of the lead characters as they find themselves under the unblinking scrutiny of the law.

The characters are the driving force of the novel and at first they seem thinly drawn (the bolshy builder with a chip on his shoulder, the creepy computer geek, the bubbly housewife, the bohemian actress-wannabe, the Jack-the-Lad salesman, and his timid wife - who may or may not have a penchant for a bit of 'rough play' in the bedroom). However, what Mark does so well is peel back layer after layer of their personalities to reveal some surprising facets, and a plentiful supply of red herrings. None of them turn out to be particularly endearing characters, but they all have enough quirks, failings, and redeeming qualities to lift them above the stereotypes they might initially appear. Other readers may guess whodunnit before the end, but the twists and turns kept me guessing.

I don't read a huge amount of crime fiction, so I don't know if my only real gripe with the book is a common tactic or not. There are sections when the narrative pulls back from its close focus on the individual characters to give a much broader overview of the scene. This doesn't happen often, but it distracted me from the story the way seeing the wires on a magic trick would. There's a scene near the end where the enthusiastic rookie cop working on the UK aspect of the case arrives after the climactic event that ensures the couples won't be arranging any further dinner parties. The scene's written from her point of view, but the characters are referred to as "the suspect" or "the witnesses" - by this point the cop has interviewed all these people and delved into their murky pasts, so she knows them all by name. To me this just seemed like Mark wagging his finger and saying, "Uh-uh, I'm not going to tell you yet; you have to keep reading," and it felt a little unnecessary.

This was a minor concern, though, and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Mark evokes the punishing heat and humidity of Florida very well, and the scenes with the missing girl's mother are realistic and heartbreakingly poignant. The London-based dinner parties are a hoot, with plenty of bitching, personality clashes, and some very dark humour. Mark's direct, clear prose hustles you along, and 400 pages zip by in no time at all. There's even a cameo from a certain Tom Thorne - although you might not recognise him at first...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2013
I am a Mark Billingham fan and quite simply loved this book, the tantalising bits in between, the way the story flipped from one to the other of the main characters. The only unnecessary bit was the prologue, it had no real place in the story (they rarely do, truthfully, I advise wannabe writers to throw them away) and just get on with the story.

I am surprised by the mixed reviews but pleased to be able to say I for one wasn't a tad disappointed, I thought it was great and I read a tremendous amount of books. Try some more 'stand alone' alone books, Mr Billingham. We can have enough of Tom Thorne sometimes.
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Angie and Barry, Dave and Marina and Ed and Sue all meet on holiday in Florida. They hit it off and over the next fortnight, they go out and share laughs but on the last day, the daughter of one of the other guests at their resort goes missing. Nevertheless, when they get back to the UK they agree to meet up for dinner at each other’s houses – starting with Angie and Barry. Over the next few weeks, the couples meet up and get to know each other better, which means that character flaws and tensions all start to come to the fore. And of course, the disappearance of the girl dominates all of their discussions. Then a second girl goes missing in the UK and the couples begin to realise that one of them could be responsible …

Mark Billingham’s stand-alone crime thriller sits outside his successful TOM THORNE SERIES (although Thorne himself does make a delicious cameo). It’s a very structured piece, built broadly around the three dinners and although I enjoyed the way he weaves the events in Florida with the burgeoning relationships that develop between the couples, the final quarter seems very rushed and I wasn’t particularly convinced by the revelation of the killer, especially in terms of why they did it. I was equally unconvinced by Marina and Dave’s relationship – for me, they were the most underdeveloped of the couples with Dave in particular coming across as a stereotypical computer geek while Marina’s self-confidence issues get a predictable back-story. I also wanted a little bit more on Ed and Sue’s marriage – there’s more emphasis on Ed than on Sue with the result that she’s slightly under-baked on the page. However there’s a lot to enjoy here as Billingham slowly ratchets up the tension and gradually reveals information so that the book keeps you guessing until the end. He also does a good job in depicting the dinners themselves in all their awkward and stilted glory as games of one-upmanship take place and tensions are revealed, especially as the alcohol flows. All in all, even though the book didn’t quite come good for me, it did keep me turning the pages and, as always, I will check out Billingham’s next book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 August 2013
After reading Mark Billingham's Thorne novels with great enjoyment, I approached his new stand-alone book with slightly mixed feelings. Would a Thorneless narrative keep me reading? Within a few pages, I knew that it would and later had the additional enjoyment of spotting Thorne over in the corner.

Three British couples meet on holiday by their Florida poolside; from the beginning we can see that the couples have a limited number of common interests apart from the holiday food, drink and sun. Right at the end of their holiday, a teenage American girl with special needs who is on holiday with her single mother goes missing and this provides the link that leads them to get together after their return home.

They arrange dinner parties, hosted by each couple in turn, at which the conversation revolves around their holiday and the fate of the girl, whose name they now know, Amber-Marie Wilson. Since we also meet the members of each individual couple, together and separately, we realise that they have secrets from one another and that they bent the truth when interviewed by the Florida police.

This introduces Trainee Detective Constable Jenny Quinlan of the Metropolitan Police who visits the six with some follow-up questions, intending to take this opportunity to establish her career. The attitudes of each couple differ and their dinner party conversations, and the alcohol, lead to various individual and group tensions. Chillingly, Billingham introduces the thoughts of one of the holidaymakers, not identified, which throws a new light on the disappearance and suggests that a calculating mind is at work.

When Amber-Marie's body is found, the conversation at the next dinner party become more animated but then a second girl disappears in Kent leading to the investigations on both sides of the Atlantic to be more closely linked. The author establishes a fascinating interaction between Quinlan and her Florida colleague, Detective Jeffrey Gardner of the Sarasota Police Department, based around the former's misunderstanding of the American's telephone responses and her belief he is attracted to her.

As we learn more about the six people, it is clear that they all have secrets to hide but as these are carefully dropped into the story, any of them might be the guilty party. It is inevitable that the six have stereotypical characteristics but these are cleverly layered and consolidated through the dinner parties, whose conversational chitchat is beautifully presented, through discussions between the individual couples and through interactions with their colleagues and friends. Rifts between the couples lead to more revealing comments, at least after more alcohol has flowed.

The complex construction of the novel means that the reader is frequently ahead of participants at the dinner party and certainly the police. This is a novel about character development, control and the difference between external and internal character. Not until the final moments of the book is the total truth revealed although we have been led up several wrong pathways. However, it was surely unwise to give a snippet from a press review such prominence on the cover since it certainly defuses some of the rapidly mounting excitement.

This book delivers a rush of pure evil, the killer's self-justification for his/her actions. This is an ideal holiday read but it is probably unwise to meet the people on the next table to discuss its ins and outs after you get home.
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As Mark Billingham writes in the acknowledgements section of this book, it's good for writers to occasionally step outside the comfort zone and try something new. He's certainly done that here with 'Rush of Blood' - a non-Tom Thorne novel that moves away from the police procedural and instead comes at the storyline from an altogether more psychological perspective.

The story centres around 3 UK couples, who could be implicated in the disappearance of a child whilst holidaying in Florida. With considerable skill, Billingham unfolds the stories of his characters - none of them particularly likeable - but all of whom seem damaged enough in their own ways to be possible suspects as the events unfold.

Impressively, the book holds the attention all the way, and only right at the very end does a slight over-egging of the plot reduce the overall impact and drama of things. That said, Billingham's writing style is so much more measured and controlled now from when he started out at the beginning of the Thorne series, and in many ways I think this is his best book to date.

Billingham has taken a risk here, and 'Rush of Blood' certainly won't appeal to all of his fans who prefer the Thorne series, which in my view was becoming a little stale. With 'Rush of Blood', Billingham shows he's actually quite comfortable working in different styles of crime writing, and certainly much more successful than some other big name crime writers who struggle a bit when they move away from the formula of a character-series. Here, he's probably opened up a raft of new possibilities for extending his range, and Billingham is to be applauded for making a decision that has paid off well.

A genuinely suspenseful novel that tackles a number of difficult themes with real skill in storytelling. Recommended.
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