I have read a lot of crime fiction over the years, and Tom Thorne has remained at the top of my favourite detectives list for a long time. I couldn't wait to read this book and it started off well, but after 50 or so pages I lost all interest in the book and what was going on. I thought a while ago during a Thorne novel that it would be a good idea for Billingham to go back in time and show us what Thorne was like when he was younger, and in uniform. Billingham however decided to take Thorne back to wearing a uniform but in the present day, as a punishment for all he has done in the past. I think this worked but didn't work at the same time.
One of the best things about Billingham's books is the characterisation. There just didn't seem to be any of that here. The friendship with Thorne and Hendricks didn't feel as close and 'real' as it used to. It felt a bit forced. The same with Kitson and Holland. Thorne was trying to get them to help him out and they were reluctant to, this is understandable however the friendship between Thorne and these two didn't feel present. It was almost like Thorne had got kicked off their team and nobody cared about him anymore. He has always been a bit of a livewire who refuses to play by the book but he always had his friends there. I also am not a fan of the relationship with Helen. The way she kept nagging at him and acting like they were a married couple got on my nerves.
I did however find the story interesting, a bunch of murders which look like suicides however Thorne suspects otherwise and none of his superiors will listen to him. So off he goes trying to solve the mystery himself whilst dragging his ex-colleagues into it. Unfortunately however the story felt a bit rushed and fell flat towards the end. This book didn't have any of the suspense that Billingham does so well. It didn't have any of the camaraderie between Thorne and his colleagues. It was just one big disappointment and this was one of my hotly anticipated books of the year. And then the book was left on a cliffhanger, I'm just wondering how much I care about what happens to Thorne now. He just feels like such a different person these days.