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Saturday, 2 May 2015

‘From the Dead’ by Mark Billingham

Published (USA) by Atlantic Monthly Press,
13 January 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2291-9.
Published (UK), by Grove Press,
13 January 2015

D.I. Tom Thorne is one among the outstanding protagonists in the crime genre who doggedly solve murders and other mysteries while questioning their own talents, motivations and personalities, often to their own detriment.  He, like many of the others, criticizes himself, albeit unnecessarily, because he, and they they, do achieve successes.

We see Thorne agonizing over the court's findings when it frees an accused murderer he and everyone else is convinced is guilty. Key to the innocent verdict is the fact that there is no body.  But there is no time to worry about the case before another arises to occupy Thorne: a 10-year-old case that just won't disappear.

Donna Langford has just been released from prison after serving a sentence for having hired a hit man to murder her husband.  Then she begins to receive photos of a man she says is that same husband.  When she learns that her daughter has vanished, she can only conclude her husband is responsible, and she employs a private detective, Anna Carpenter, to investigate.  Anna approaches Thorne and together they begin to work the case, setting off all kinds of repercussions which may be engineered by a man who is supposed to be dead but is perhaps intent on preserving a reconstructed life.

Once again, the author has written a deep police procedural with significant insights into the characters.  While the investigation is hampered by the craftiness of the "dead" husband and roadblocks he throws in Thorne's way, he plods on doggedly, just in character.  Written with smoothness and urbanity, the plot moves forward in unexpected ways.

Reviewer: Ted Feit

 Mark Billingham is one of the UK's most acclaimed and popular crime writers. A former actor, television writer and stand-up comedian, his series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award as well as the Sherlock Award for Best British Detective and been nominated for seven CWA Daggers. His standalone thriller IN THE DARK was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, SLEEPYHEAD was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. Each of his novels has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.  A television series based on the Thorne novels was screened in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne and series based on the standalone thrillers In the Dark and Rush of Blood are currently in development with the BBC.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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