Four stars for this one. Ordinarily a five star read but I recently changed most of my five star ratings to four star and kept the five star books as books that have that special something, and this was missing that 'something' for me. Still an excellent read though and easily one of the best Thorne novels.
The thing I like most about the Thorne books is Tom himself. He is my favourite fictional detective and I love reading about him. I love learning more about him and following his life, so I was a bit disappointed that this book didn't focus on that part as much (despite some massive changes in Thorne's life near the end of the book). There was still the comedic moments you come to expect from Billingham (a stand up comedian) and I love Hendricks, Holland and Kitson.
Instead a lot of it focuses on Helen Weeks, who previously featured in In The Dark, a book which I haven't read because most of the reviews are negative so I couldn't be bothered with it. I think Billingham shot himself in the foot here by giving away a major part of the storyline from In the Dark as I'm sure I'm not the only reader that follows Thorne but might not have read In the Dark yet but even after reading this I don't have any intention of reading it, in the foreseeable future at least. My to read pile is ridiculous as it is without adding mixed review books to it.
I liked Helen as a character and even found myself warming to Akhtar, the shop owner who takes Helen and the unfortunate man who also happens to be in the shop at the time because he wants answers about his son's death which was ruled a suicide but which Akhtar is convinced was murder. The book moves at a quick pace compared to other Thorne novels and takes place over a few days. Billingham handled the storyline amazingly well and one thing that is always clear with Billingham is the amount of research he puts into his books, some authors might write a book with little or no research and that can be detrimental to the book, not here, the research is evident and the book is a lot better for it.
I didn't work out who the people involved in the murder were but at the same time I wasn't overly shocked when the events came to light near the end of the book. I just wonder where Billingham will take Thorne from here. I think maybe he should do what a few other authors in this genre have done and go back to the start, sort of a 'prequel' to the Thorne novels where we learn more about him before he became a policeman and after he became one. Billingham actually touched on Thorne's history and his choice of joining the force in this book so perhaps it's something he may do one day. Certainly the ending of the book left the reader wondering what's going to happen and the only problem I had with the ending is I found it difficult to believe the sudden relationship with Helen Weeks. And as much as I dislike Louise I do wonder how she will react that Thorne is in a relationship with somebody with a child after what happened with them.