From the Dead (Tom Thorne Series #9)

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Overview


In the ninth Tom Thorne novel, a man long thought killed by his long-suffering wife, turns up alive. And other people begin to turn up dead.

A decade ago, Alan Langford’s charred remains were discovered in his burnt-out car. His wife Donna was found guilty of conspiracy to murder her husband and sentenced to ten years in prison. But before she is released, Donna receives a nasty shock: an anonymous letter containing a photo of her husband. The man she hates with every fibre of ...

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From the Dead: A Tom Thorne Novel

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Overview


In the ninth Tom Thorne novel, a man long thought killed by his long-suffering wife, turns up alive. And other people begin to turn up dead.

A decade ago, Alan Langford’s charred remains were discovered in his burnt-out car. His wife Donna was found guilty of conspiracy to murder her husband and sentenced to ten years in prison. But before she is released, Donna receives a nasty shock: an anonymous letter containing a photo of her husband. The man she hates with every fibre of her being—the man she paid to have murdered—seems very much alive and well. But how is it possible that her husband is still alive? Where is he? Who sent the photo, and why?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/11/2013
At the outset of Billingham’s engrossing 12th novel featuring Det. Insp. Tom Thorne (after 2013’s The Dying Hours), an unnamed man stages his own death, allowing him to escape from England; his former wife is convicted of conspiring to murder him. Ten years later, that wife, Donna Langford, is out of prison, insisting on her innocence, a claim bolstered by her having recently received a photo showing her husband, Alan Langford, in a place that looks like Spain, apparently “back from the dead.” Donna engages Anna Carpenter, an inexperienced and ill-equipped PI, who turns for help to Thorne, though the London cop happens to be consumed by the trial of a man accused of murdering an 18-year-old girl whose body was never found. While the incessant banter between Thorne and his colleagues can be distracting and the murder trial gets somewhat lost in the shuffle, a chillingly clever criminal boosts this intelligent procedural. Agent: Anna Steadman, Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency (U.K.). (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Mark Billingham:

“Morse, Rebus, and now Thorne. The next superstar detective is already with us—don't miss him.”—Lee Child

“Mark Billingham has brought a rare and welcome blend of humanity, dimension, and excitement to the genre.”—George Pelecanos

“Billingham is a world-class crime writer and Tom Thorne is a wonderful creation. Rush to read these books.”—Karin Slaughter

“Mark Billingham is one of my favorite new writers.”—Harlan Coben

“Billingham leaps to the upper echelons of crime fiction in one bound.”—John Harvey

“With each of his books, Mark Billingham gets better and better. These are stories and characters you don’t want to leave.”—Michael Connelly

"DI Tom Thorne is the most convincing cop in British crime fiction."—Daily Telegraph

Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-21
DI Tom Thorne (The Dying Hours, 2013, etc.) faces "the Curious Case of the Suntanned Corpse." Paul Monahan certainly handcuffed someone to the steering wheel inside Alan Langford's car before he doused it in petrol and set it ablaze. Based on the evidence found in the photos Langford's wife, Donna, received shortly before her release from Wakefield Prison after serving 10 years for conspiring to kill him, though, it wasn't Langford. Donna doesn't much care whether her abusive husband is dead or alive, but she's desperate for news about her daughter Ellie, 18, who disappeared last year while Donna was still enjoying her majesty's hospitality, and she fears that Alan spirited her away. She begs Anna Carpenter, a low-rent inquiry agent who usually serves as the bait in honey traps, to help her, and Anna begs Thorne to help her help. For reasons that have nothing to do with his own personal preferences, Thorne agrees to take Anna along with him to Wakefield, where Paul Monahan, who's still serving his own time, insists that he doesn't know anything about a substitute corpse. His story convinces neither Thorne nor, evidently, whoever gets a fellow inmate to stab him to death that night. Clearly, someone doesn't want the case reopened. Thorne, traumatized by the not-guilty verdict that vindicated judo instructor Adam Chambers of murder charges after his student Andrea Keane vanished, is haunted by the two missing 18-year-olds, and soon enough, readers will be too. Not the best of Thorne's nine appearances, but a solid, rewarding piece of work from beginning to end, with a particularly neat twist that arrives just after readers finally let down their guards.
From the Publisher
“Paul Thornley narrates Billingham’s ninth Tom Thorne police procedural with excellent pacing and characterizations.”
AudioFile

“An intense mystery-thriller. . . . Exciting to the very end, From the Dead is especially recommended for connoisseurs of quality crime writing.”
Wisconsin Bookwatch

The Washington Post
“A first-rate British crime writer who is too little known in this country. . . . The police procedural is a deceptively simple genre. . . . The art, of course, lies in the ingenuity of the crime, the depth of the characterizations and the quality of the writing. Billingham excels in all regards. . . . Tom Thorne [is] worth getting to know.”
The Washington Post
Wisconsin Bookwatch
“A first-rate British crime writer who is too little known in this country. . . . The police procedural is a deceptively simple genre. . . . The art, of course, lies in the ingenuity of the crime, the depth of the characterizations and the quality of the writing. Billingham excels in all regards. . . . Tom Thorne [is] worth getting to know.”
The Washington Post
The Barnes & Noble Review

Ten chapters into Mark Billingham's immensely satisfying From the Dead, Detective Inspector Tom Thorne sums up his working life (which is to say, his life) as follows: "Football and music. Love lives and their attendant headaches. Spatter patterns, rigor mortis and knife wounds." Shuffle the order a little and this could be any fictional homicide detective talking, but that is surely the point. Billingham's Thorne, a cynical and laconic Londoner, is Everycopper. Not showy, not brooding, just thorough and decent, yet nobody's fool; as clear-eyed about his fellow officers as he is about villains. "[C]oppers brought together in teams always seemed to fall into recognizable categories," he observes. "There were the can-do types and the moaners. There were arse-lickers, loners and thugs."

In From the Dead, the twelfth installment in Billingham's series with Thorne at the center, these varieties are deftly personified and their overlords mercilessly skewered. Jargon- spouting Chief Superintendent Trevor Jesmond, for instance, is known for "blithely wafting the stink of failure in the direction of others," typically Thorne or Thorne's immediate boss, DCI Brigstocke. "DCI was a tricky rank," Thorne concedes, "caught in an uncomfortable limbo between the lads and the brass. 'Like a cock in a zip,' Brigstocke had told Thorne once, 'Up or down, it's a world of pain.' "

Failure pervades the early pages. A young woman remains missing, presumed dead, and the murder suspect, soon to become a media darling, is acquitted. Cursed with a heart as well as a conscience, Thorne cannot rid his mind of the "?eighteen year-old girl whose bones lay waiting for an inquisitive dog," even when the next case materializes, one that conjures up a far more malevolent ghost. London businessman and criminal Alan Langford has been presumed dead for over a decade — apparently incinerated in his car by a killer acting for Langford's wife, Donna. But Donna, newly released from prison, receives a photograph in the mail of her husband, alive and smiling. "The sky behind him was cloudless, with the jagged line of a mountain sloping down to a dark-blue streak of sea." Not England, then. But is this Langford, and if so, who perished in the blaze? More photographs arrive, but who is sending them and why?

Almost at random, Donna, engages the services of Anna Carpenter, a twenty-one-year-old aspiring private investigator who brings the puzzle to the police and becomes Thorne's erstwhile shadow. This unlikely partnership, however short-lived, could have mired the novel in cuteness or cliché, but Billingham steers clear of this hazard, keeping the pace brisk and the tone bleak. As Thorne follows the booby-trapped trail to Langford, fresh murder victims present themselves, some tainted but one innocent and destined to haunt him. "[H]e felt again the weight of her as they lay together," Billingham writes, "?her breath bubbling and shallow against his chest and her blood leaking through his fingers." Even the Mediterranean warmth of Marbella, the novel's final destination, cannot penetrate Thorne's icy — and now vengeful — resolve. "Nice isn't it?" his local police contact comments as they approach the sparkling coast. "Looks nice," Thorne replies. Exactly.

Anna Mundow, a longtime contributor to The Irish Times and The Boston Globe, has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802122131
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Series: Tom Thorne Series , #9
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 585,189
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Mark Billingham is one of England's best known and top-selling crime writers. His most recent book was a #1 bestseller in the UK. He has twice won the Theakston's Old Peculier Award for Best Crime Novel, and has also won a Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British writer. His novels Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat were made into a hit TV series starring David Morrissey as Thorne. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Brit reader

    This story has well developed characters and believable plot. Lots of twists and turns and great slang for Brit nostalgia. Absolutely worth time reading.

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