This may have been one of my most favourite crime/thriller books I’ve ever read. This genre is one of my constants throughout the years. I’ve always enjoyed a good crime thriller and when I stumbled upon Billingham I was delighted to find a good cop series based in Britain that I really enjoyed. Even though I’m Irish the British police force and judicial system are obviously slightly more similar and familiar to me than the American version so I just found myself more easily drawn to these books and their characters. Billingham faltered a little along the way with Burning Girl which I didn’t enjoy as much as all the other books but it has done one positive thing and that is made me appreciate all the more when he gets it so brilliantly right and here’s a good case in point.
Death Message was great from the very beginning. It had an original storyline, the characters were written fantastically, and it was just excellently paced. Basically Thorne is dealing with a man who has recently been released from prison, and following the murder by hit and run of his wife and child, is embarking on a killing spree of anyone who he thinks is even remotely involved. He gets Thorne involved by sending him messages in various forms, pictures, videos and texts, of the dead or soon-to-be dead victim. Obviously this immediately makes Thorne feel intimately involved and soon he becomes all the more so.
I won’t give away too much of the plot as it is just too good to give away but suffice to say it is very exciting all the way through and we meet some old and new characters along the way, some we loved and some we loved to hate. There is a part near the end where we once again see Thorne stray a bit over the line of good cop, bad cop but in this novel as opposed to previous ones, I feel like what he does is justified. I do see Thorne becoming more ‘bent’ as the series progresses but like Thorne I think the readers will also struggle to see what is truly considered justice and I for one am beginning to accept his slightly vigilante ways.
Also I want to take a minute to talk about his romance with Louise. God am I rooting for this to work out and for her and Thorne to remain together through future instalments. I really like the way he shows his more vulnerable side around her and how she loves him but yet knows not to take any of his shit either. The ending gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside let’s just leave it at that.
- A life in writing: Mark Billingham (guardian.co.uk)