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Monday, September 12, 2016

Time of Death (Mark Billingham)

Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up. But this is a place where dangerous truths lie buried. When family man Stephen Bates is arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates' wife - an old school friend of Helen's - who is living under siege and convinced of her husband's innocence. As a decomposing body is found, the police believe they have their murderer, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police, townsfolk... and a merciless killer.

Quote: "Well, I think you can describe what he's done as evil... but I think the people that do this stuff are just greedy or twisted or sick in the head. Not sure 'evil' is the right word. Not sure it does us any favours. If it helps, I don't really believe people are naturally good either."

Why this book speaks to me: It is always a pleasure to read another crime episode from the magical and elegant handwriting style of Mark Billingham. This is English crime at its best, well researched, intelligent, informative, with strong characters who aptly display their strengths and weaknesses for all to see. There are no quick solutions here but a story that unfolds like the petals of a rose about to reveal one shocking truth.
I love the relaxed and unpretentious style of Billingham and how he expertly portrays Thorne as a loner with very few friends apart from the somewhat colourful police pathologist Phil Hendricks. It was good to see that Hendricks once again became a central pivot as the story evolved, and his unconventional appearance and lifestyle acted in sharp contrast to the conservative Thorne.
Here, there are secrets to be revealed and a relationship tested to the extreme in a great example of modern British crime fiction. I highly recommend it.

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