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From The Dead (Tom Thorne Novels) Paperback – 17 Mar 2011
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A Q&A with Mark Billingham
Q: How did you go about researching From the Dead?
A: I spent a couple of weeks in Spain, where a good deal of From the Dead is set. The writing always goes better for me if I've had a chance to sample something of the atmosphere of a place. It's also a good excuse to eat great food and sit in the sun drinking Spanish beer, but I did see and hear sorts of things that have found their way into the story. Notably an amazing religious festival that was happening while I was there which I could not possibly deny Tom Thorne.
Q: In From the Dead, Thorne leaves the UK for the first time. What inspired you to take your character further afield?
A: The story took him there. I've always fought shy of taking Thorne away from London as the city is such an important character in the book, but on this occasion I had no choice. The scenes in Spain only take place in the last part of the book, but I had a lot of fun with Thorne in a setting he was uncomfortable with. We see another side of him, I think.
Q: Thorne hits our TV screens on Sky One this autumn. Can you tell us a bit more about this project?
A: They have filmed the first two books in the series--Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat--and they will be shown over six, hour long episodes this Autumn. I've been very involved in the project from the beginning which is unusual for a writer, but it has been a hugely rewarding experience and I'm very proud of what we've done. It will not be slavish to the books as there is such a huge difference between the page and the screen. I hope that fans of the books will judge the films in their own right and not just compare them to the books. The books are still there of course.
Q: David Morrissey will be playing Thorne. What do you think of this casting choice?
A: Well, David was always my choice to play Thorne, so obviously I'm delighted. He's a fantastic actor which is all any writer can hope for and he think he really conveys the empathy which Thorne has for the victims of crime. Readers always suspect that I am Thorne, so I'm very happy that David is younger and better-looking than I am!
Q: What are you reading at the moment?
Q: Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
A: I NEVER feel guilty reading anything. Well...OK, I might blush a little if I was caught flicking through Heat, but generally I don't believe anyone should ever feel bad about reading anything. They should certainly not feel bad if they are not enjoying something which everyone tells them is marvellous. If you're not enjoying a book, for God's sake put it down and find one that you enjoy.
Q: Do you have any writing rituals?
A: Well I don't slaughter a chicken every morning or anything, but I always buy the same kind of notebook to start each book. And I start every day by re-writing what I wrote the day before. I can never just press on without feeling totally happy with what comes before.
Q: What are you working on now?
Q: Where do you think the next book may take Thorne?
A: It doesn't take him out of London like From the Dead, but he has to work very differently in this one. There's very much a 'race against time' element in this one, and a narrative that cuts back and forth between Thorne and Helen Weeks, who is the main character from In the Dark. I thought it would be interesting to put the two of them into the same book, though they will not come face to face until the very end.
Q: Do you have any plans to write another stand alone novel?
A: Yes, I'd like to as I was so pleased with In the Dark. Some readers will always want to see Thorne of course, and that's fine with me. I have no plans to kill him off just yet.
'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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.Read more ›
This story however does not hold up.
The wife had already done time for the murder of her husband, therefor it is doubtful she would have done any more time.
Also why would the husband have pretended to be dead, the kind of character that is portrayed would have had the wife killed or used the knowledge to give her a very hard time, he could however have just wanted out of his present life? but not to continue it elsewhere?
Thorne ends up in Spain on this occasion tracking a fugitive who was presumed dead. There is also a secondary story which closes well with a twist.
As always, there is no difficulty turning the pages here although the usual tension and excitement are missing. Surprisingly, there is very little Thorne does or thinks to blow open the case. I also felt there was far too much filler material as he journeyed through Spain.
I liked travelling with Thorne through the story, but overall the usual bite wasn't there, in my view. That said, I like Billingham's writing style and Thorne's character, so will pick up as new stories are released. 7/10
(P.S. The Kindle version I read had formatting problems - down to 4 or 5 sentences on some pages - but they were not bad enough to spoil the experience).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Totally brilliant - well written, well narrated by Philip Glenister, I couldn't stop listening to it - had to keep parking up and sitting in the car when I got to places....Published 1 month ago by Kate Pestille
great books by this author - wouldn't be surprised if they were made into films or tv series. If you enjoy British detective stories you'll love thesPublished 2 months ago by janice
Would have given it 4 and a half stars if possible. Very enjoyable read and not quite the expected ending and slightly disappointing albeit surprising. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ken S
not read it yet but if its as good has all his other books I will be delightedPublished 4 months ago by geoffrey woodward
once again Mark hits the nail on the head. i must admit sometimes when i start one of his books, i think is this going to be a flop. but no. he has never let me down. hey everyone. Read morePublished 4 months ago by frank
The other reviews have given a breakdown of the story line, so I just have to say how much I enjoyed reading another DI Tom Thorne story, it had the usual pace and Mark makes the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by phillie
I have read 'From The Dead' by Mark Billingham and I give it 5 stars. A very good read.Published 5 months ago by Geordie