Die of Shame
From British thriller master Mark Billingham, a recent finalist for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library, Die of Shame is a chilling story of addiction, subterfuge, and murder.
Every Monday evening, six people gather in a smart North London house to talk about shame. A respected doctor, a well-heeled housewife, a young male prostitute . . . they could not be more different. All they have in common is a history of addiction. But when one of the group is murdered, it quickly becomes apparent that someone else in that circle is responsible. The investigation is hampered by the strict confidentiality that binds these individuals and their therapist together, which makes things difficult for Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner, a woman who can appreciate the desire to keep personal matters private. If she is to find the killer, she will need to use less obvious means. The question is: What could be shameful enough to cost someone their life? And how do you find the truth when secrets, lies, and denial are second nature to all of your suspects?
This is an interesting look at addictions, therapy, group dynamics and the odd murder – past and present. I really enjoyed being fly on the wall of the therapy sessions and learning more about the main characters in the “Then” and “Now” chapters. As you read you are fully aware that one of the group is a murderer – slowly hints and clues are gently dropped on the wayside but in this novel, the “who” isn’t such a mystery it is the “why”? And the why is very interesting indeed.
This book is touted as a standalone, Tom Thorne is only fleetingly mentioned, and the lead police investigators are DI Nicola Tanner and her assistant Dipak Chall. I did not warm to the character Nicola Tanner – I found her manner – on and off duty, to be rather severe and cold, lacking in personality/development. Even though I was already aware of her from a previous read, very little was added to that knowledge. Chall at least showed some sarcasm/wit/humour which made him a little more likeable. Luckily the characters of the therapy group were engaging and fleshed out and that became my focus in this read. Do you think this was a deliberate ploy to keep the attention on the suspects? Maybe…but I would still have liked to see the more personable side of Nicole Tanner.
An interesting psychological mystery.