Death Message (Tom Thorne Series #7)

( 9 )

Overview

Winner of the UK's 2009 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award

It's carried by police officers to your door?the last words anyone ever wants to hear: The Death Message.

Detective Investigator Tom Thorne is receiving messages of his own: photographs of murder victims sent to his cell phone. Thorne doesn't know who's sending the grisly pictures, who the victims are, or why he has been chosen?but he knows a dead man when he sees ...

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Death Message (Tom Thorne Series #7)

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Overview

Winner of the UK's 2009 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award

It's carried by police officers to your door—the last words anyone ever wants to hear: The Death Message.

Detective Investigator Tom Thorne is receiving messages of his own: photographs of murder victims sent to his cell phone. Thorne doesn't know who's sending the grisly pictures, who the victims are, or why he has been chosen—but he knows a dead man when he sees one. Ensnared in an investigation that threatens to confound his judgment and destroy his career, he must track down a fiendishly elusive killer before time runs out. Because the slayings are somehow connected to the most terrifying psychopath he has ever encountered—and the blood trail is about to cross into Thorne's personal life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Det. Insp. Thorne receives an anonymous text message with a blurry photograph of a dead man, Thorne wonders if someone is playing a macabre trick in Billingham's outstanding seventh novel to feature the London policeman (after 2007's Buried). But when another, similar photo arrives, Thorne knows it's something much worse. Both victims are identified as members of the Black Dogs, a notorious biker gang, and fingerprints point to Marcus Brooks, recently paroled after serving time for allegedly killing the Black Dogs' leader. Brooks claims he was framed for the gang leader's murder; a few weeks before his release, Brooks's girlfriend and son are killed in a suspicious hit-and-run. Now Thorne fears that Brooks is out for revenge, targeting both the gang that landed him in prison and the bent coppers who may be behind it all. Billingham continues to enrich Thorne's world by introducing new villains and by highlighting connections to old cases and older wounds. (Oct.)
Library Journal
After his stand-alone In the Dark, Billingham returns to his Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series. This time Thorne is the recipient of pictures via cellphone of murder victims either before or immediately after they are killed. When Thorne traces the pictures to an ex-con whose wife and child were murdered shortly before his release, the link leads Thorne back to one of his old cases. Then a friend is threatened and dirty cops are implicated in the case. Thorne doesn't know whom he can trust, but in a strange twist, a confession from another killer unravels assumptions made by both the death message killer and Thorne himself, uniting them in an unexpected conclusion. VERDICT Billingham's latest deservingly won this year's Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. The plot twists and tight writing are sure to please fans of the genre. [This title was highlighted in LJ's Mystery Book Buzz webcast at http://bit.ly/AV1nw.—Ed.]—Lisa O'Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs., Winnipeg
Kirkus Reviews
Forget You've Got Voicemail. DI Tom Thorne's cell phone is delivering a more macabre message: You've Got Corpses. Whoever beat to death dodgy used-car salesman Raymond Tucker is civic-minded in at least one respect. Instead of waiting for someone to report Tucker missing, he uses his phone to send Thorne a photo of the week-old corpse. Ricky Hodson's face also turns up on Thorne's phone shortly after he's suffocated in his hospital bed. Since Tucker and Hodson were both longtime members of the Black Dog gang, Thorne's suspicions soon focus on Marcus Brooks, who faced a horrific revenge after murdering the founding president of the Black Dogs some ten years ago and is now evidently engaged in reprisals of his own. But the case grows steadily more complicated. The next victim isn't another Black Dog but a police officer. Brooks, who's addressing himself more openly and directly to Thorne, insists that he arrived at one murder scene to find his intended victim already dead. And a tenuous bond begins to grow between Brooks and Thorne as they race to close the case, each in his own way. Though the climactic identification of the master criminals who are pulling the strings will pack a bigger wallop for Thorne than for most readers, the motives for their perfidy are satisfyingly chilling. Thorne's eighth (Buried, 2007, etc.) boldly pushes the British procedural toward the kind of cops-and-criminals psychodrama Americans are most likely to associate with James Lee Burke-a heady brew indeed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061432774
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Series: Tom Thorne Series , #7
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 648,444
  • Product dimensions: 7.68 (w) x 11.34 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Billingham is the author of nine novels, including Sleepyhead, Scaredy Cat, Lazybones, The Burning Girl, Lifeless, and Buried—all Times (London) bestsellers—as well as the stand-alone thriller In the Dark. For the creation of the Tom Thorne character, Billingham received the 2003 Sherlock Award for Best Detective created by a British writer, and he has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. He has previously worked as an actor and stand-up comedian on British television and still writes regularly for the BBC. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    How delicious

    An entree to be savored in the midst the daily cranage.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 23, 2010

    Don't Be Fooled

    Best selling British thriller author, Mark Billingham has outdone himself with the recent launch of "Death Message". Giving readers an insider view into the undeniably shadowy search for an unconventional killer and the cop tasked with bringing him in, Billingham takes an uncommon approach while speeding readers through this fast-paced thrill ride.

    DI Tom Thorne is the typical career cop with a history of faintly blurring the lines between right and wrong in order to get his job done. When he begins receiving death messages via text from a new breed of killer who is hell-bent on revenge, that very thin line all but disappears and everything becomes personal.

    Deftly sprinkling clues, readers may be under the false impression that Billingham has given it away but, don't be fooled-he hasn't.
    Unpredictable twists and turns seem to come naturally to this impressive author and you won't foresee the ending until you arrive.

    Reviewed by Suspense Magazine
    www.suspensemagazine.com

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fans of the Thorne police procedurals will welcome this strong entry

    London Detective Inspector Tom Thorne looks carefully at the blurry photo that has been sent to him over his cellphone. The person looks dead though he cannot be sure. He has no idea who sent the picture, who the victim is, and who the killer is assuming it is not the transmitter.

    Soon afterward, a second photo of a corpse arrives. More pictures of apparently dead people keep coming to Thorne on his cell. Thorne and his unit struggle with the lack of motive but begin to identify the psychopath; yet the deadly predator remains elusive sending more pictures of the recently deceased.

    Fans of the Thorne police procedurals will welcome this strong entry as the DI struggles with a case in which the culprit mocks him with the Death Message. The key to this fast-paced investigative thriller is as always the support cast, mostly the cops working with Thorne, who make what could have been another taunting serial killer story line into a deep look at the personal side of the police working a tough case. Fans will enjoy Thorne's latest case as the police try to end the reign of terror from a clever Grim Reaper.

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Posted October 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    "TOM THORNE KNEW A DEAD MAN WHEN HE SAW ONE"

    Okay, okay, admittedly I'm a pushover for British crime novels, but most will be, too, after reading any of Mark Billingham's seven Tom Thorne thrillers. Thorne is a Detective Investigator with savvy and a heart, very human, so we relate to him easily, sprout goose bumps when he's in deep trouble, and once we begin a Thorne title cannot put it down until the end. By now he seems like an old friend, one we know well but still cannot predict what he will say or do next.

    Billingham brings his latest thriller very much to the present by the important use of a cellphone. Just as Thorne walks into his kitchen to tell Elvis he's sorry for forgetting to feed her and to make some tea his cellphone rings. He knew who it would be from - Louise, which made him smile. But then the phone rang again and this message was as far from Louise as possible. "It was a multimedia message, with a photograph attached.....and Tom Thorne knew a dead man when he saw one."

    As techies scramble to trace the sender another photo arrives, and before long Thorne finds himself faced with an enemy capable of manipulating others into doing his dastardly deeds for him, and it starts to hit Thorne very close to home.

    In police lingo the phrase "death message" refers to telling someone that they have just lost a loved one. But, in this case, those messages are directed toward Thorne but why and by whom?

    - Gail Cooke

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    Posted November 7, 2011

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