“She’s not Poppy anymore…now she’s somebody else.”
Time of Death
A Tom Thorne Novel
Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried.
When it’s splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been 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 with two teenage children and convinced of her husband’s innocence.
As residents and media bay for Bates’ blood, a decomposing body is found. The police believe they have their murderer in custody, 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.
Tom Thorne returns in a chilling mystery that will keep readers guessing until the final page. Time of Death is Mark Billingham’s most timely, atmospheric thriller to date.
Billingham goes to great lengths to immerse the reader in this novel – the settings are so vivid you can imagine yourself walking down the main street of the small town of Polesford. You can sit yourself at the café or pub and look at the menu, order your pint/coffee, nod your head in a silent hello to the locals. You are sitting at the next table to Hendricks and Thorne overhearing them discuss bugs and death and missing girls. Cleverly you have become a bit player on this large stage and therefore have a vested interest in discovering the truth. Well done Mark Billingham.
I love the characters of Helen, Thorne and Hendricks and have become very comfortable with these characters, their banter, their humour, sarcasm and intelligence…the dialogue is exceptionally natural and believable and the characters develop and grow with each new novel.
The plot is complex and there are a few red herrings to keep you on your toes. There are a couple of story arcs and I particularly liked where Helen is heading (no spoilers here), the issues she brining to our attention are contemporary, dark and unfortunately prevalent in our modern society and I am pleased she has found the strength to deal with this issue. Her story may embolden others. Billingham has told us enough but not all of the details of this thread and leaves the reader wanting to know more. The issue is handled sensitively without sensationalism.
In Time of Death Mark Billingham has provided the reader with another well written, complex narrative that speaks to issues that we can all empathise with. The plot is tense, the scenarios realistic, the political environment of the workplace is familiar, the characters are finely drawn and three dimensional and feel like people you know. The ending….is almost satisfying, the original case of the missing girls is cleared up but there is more happening that reaches beyond the last page of this novel; I was disappointed when it came to the end, I wanted more!