Demoted from detective a few months earlier after a case gone awry (recounted in The Demands), London police officer Tom Thorne has lost none of his instinct or edge.At the bedside of an elderly couple discovered dead in a presumed suicide, Thorne senses something wrong, in part because the woman’s dentures were removed, leaving her not the way Thorne thinks she would have wanted to be found. Rebuffed by superiors when he suggests investigating the case as murder, he goes rogue, calling on a few colleagues to piece together a string of deaths framed as suicides in which the victims seemed unlikely to have taken their own lives and making a connection that went back decades.Thorne risks his shaky career and more by ferreting out not only the “who” and “why” but the “how” of the crimes.
Verdict In his 11th Tom Thorne novel, Billingham displays his mastery of the nuanced adrenaline-fueled police procedural several notches above the standard thriller. The final ambiguity about Thorne will leave even readers new to the series anxious for more about this principled maverick protagonist. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/13.]Michele Leber, Arlington, VA
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DI Tom Thorne, back in uniform after his last round of insubordination, goes even further off the rez in his attempts to prove that a series of suicides was something else. John and Margaret Cooper didn't leave a note when they topped themselves; the bottle of insulin they used didn't carry a prescription label; and Margaret had removed her dentures, as if she were merely going to sleep. But those telltale signs don't persuade DI Paul Binns or DCI Neil Hackett that the Coopers might have been murdered. Since nobody will listen to him, Thorne signs off on the official findings and then goes off on his own--first during his free time, then on manufactured sick days--to find more compelling evidence that they're wrong. For better or worse, evidence of a sort keeps coming in. The earlier suicides of Brian Gibbs and Fiona Daniels look equally suspicious, and more victims soon follow, each of them clearly (at least to Thorne's mind) coaxed or forced into killing themselves. The breakthrough comes when Thorne, sneaking behind the back of DS Helen Weeks, the lover he's been more or less living with ever since he saved her life (The Demands, 2012), links all the elderly victims to a 30-year-old case. But even when he's satisfied himself of the killer's motive and identity, Thorne still can't find any evidence that changes Hackett's mind, and the harder he tries, the more he risks getting booted off the force for good. Too many views of the killer at work and not enough actual mystery. But no one currently working the British scene tops Billingham for mordant intensity, whether Thorne is surveying the latest scene of an apparent suicide or just trying to explain why he called in sick.
Praise for The Dying Hours:
“Even in the best of times, Tom Thorne, the hero of a well-groomed series of police procedurals by Mark Billingham, is a moody chap. But he’s hit rock bottom in The Dying Hours . . . The joy here comes from watching Thorne work under the radar while on the hunt for a killer who proves to be extremely clever and really, really mean.”New York Times Book Review
“The Dying Hours is British author Mark Billingham’s 11th novel about Thorne, a prickly loner who is a relentless investigator, often at the cost of his personal relationships . . . Billingham is fiendishly clever about subverting our expectations, the book’s two-page prologue being a bravura example. He’s also adept at sketching believable characters very quickly, so that each of the killer’s very different victims are real to us, not just corpses after the fact. Thorne’s friends and colleagues are even more vivid . . . But the hunt is what drives The Dying Hours, and it comes to a breathtaking and surprising climax, with the last sharp twist saved for the final page.”The Tampa Bay Times
“The Dying Hours’ relentless pace doesn’t slow down until the last word, proving why Billingham continues to be a best-seller in Great Britain.”The Sun Sentinel
“It takes but two short pages for the first twist to be revealed in Mark Billingham’s latest Tom Thorne mystery, The Dying Hours, and a very good twist it is. . . . Thorne is an exceptionally well-drawn character, ably supported by a cast of complex colleagues and truly disagreeable villains, although at times you will have some question as to which is which. The Dying Hours is a fine addition to what is already one of the best crafted police procedural series in contemporary fiction.”BookPage
“No one currently working the British scene tops Billingham for mordant intensity, whether Thorne is surveying the latest scene of an apparent suicide or just trying to explain why he called in sick.”Kirkus Reviews
“Mark Billingham’s troubled detective inspector is one of those riveting characters who is almost likable in spite of himself, somewhat dour in personality but possessed of a dry sense of humor, seemingly unable to close the deal on a long-term relationship, an aficionado of American country music. Yes, complex would be the word, just like a great number of us. It is these personality elements of Thorne’s, combined with Billingham’s sharp plotting and extremely interesting murderers, that keep readers on both sides of the Atlantic coming back again and again. . . . The Dying Hours may be my favorite Thorne book to date. . . . And the ending? Let’s just say that there is good news and bad news for newcomers and longtime fans alike. Strongly recommended for both.”BookReporter
“One of my favorite crime series. . . . The Dying Hours was an excellent crime novel on so many levels. Billingham’s plotting is always inventive, dark and devious, designed to keep the reader wondering--and up late at night. The procedural details of the investigation always fascinate me. But it is Thorne himself that makes this series such a standout. I’m always a sucker for the ‘buck the system’ characters, and Thorne is a prime example. The Dying Hours kept me captive for an entire day when I was off sick. A riveting read is probably some of the best medicine one can ask for.”A Bookworm’s World
Praise for Mark Billingham:
“Morse, Rebus, and now Thorne. The next superstar detective is already with usdon’t miss him.”Lee Child
“Billingham is one of the most consistently entertaining, insightful crime writers working today.”Gillian Flynn
“Billingham is a world-class crime writer and Tom Thorne is a wonderful creation. Rush to read these books.”Karin Slaughter
“With each of his books, Mark Billingham gets better and better. These are stories and characters you don’t want to leave.”Michael Connelly
“Mark Billingham is one of my favorite new writers.”Harlan Coben
"Billingham is one of the best crime novelists working today."Laura Lippman
“Mark Billingham has brought a rare and welcome blend of humanity, dimension, and excitement to the genre.”George Pelecanos
“Billingham leaps to the upper echelons of crime fiction in one bound.”John Harvey