I always think of books by Mark Billingham as safe. Not safe as in unadventurous, but rather a safe bet if you’re looking for a well-written police procedural. I listened to an older Tom Throne book a few weeks ago – Lifeless – and enjoyed hearing that one again (it’s been some years since I first read it) and had been looking forward to this for some time. If the truth be known, I’d got it from NetGalley in April, but life had gotten in the way of reading. But that’s what holidays are for, right?
Time of Death sees Tom Throne and his partner, Helen, taking a holiday, but some coppers seem to struggle to stay away from the job. So when Helen sees that the partner of a school friend who shares her troubled past is under suspicion for child abduction, they return to Helen’s childhood hometown. Whilst Helen does her best to comfort her friend, Thorns does what he does best: pokes his nose in and gets under the skin of authority. And with the police seemingly on the wrong track, and a young girl missing, time is of the essence.
I read plenty of books, and review the ones I like. But nevertheless, it’s when you read a book like this you are reminded of the difference between a good writer and a great writer, and Billingham is a great writer. I have no set criteria in making that judgement, but if you believe in the characters, and want to get to the end of the story as quickly as you can to find out how it all pans out, you know you’re onto a pretty good thing.
I purposely don’t rate books in these reviews, but if I did, well, you know.