Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried.
When it’s splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates’ wife - an old school friend of Helen’s – living under siege with two teenage children and convinced of her husband’s innocence.
As residents and media bay for Bates’ blood, a decomposing body is found. The police believe they have their murderer in custody, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police, townsfolk and a merciless killer.”
Following on from events in Mark Billingham‘s previous Tom Thorne novel “The Bones Beneath”, the thirteenth Thorne adventure, “Time Of Death”, finds Thorne and his girlfriend Helen Weeks enjoying a holiday away from their respective police roles. Thus we are again away from their usual London environment for most of the time.
I am pleased to say straight away that I found this one to be a big improvement on the last book. Pathologist Phil Hendricks has a much bigger role in this tale, as does Helen, giving this more of an ensemble feel than perhaps was the case with earlier books in the series. This isn’t a bad thing, though, and we certainly learn a lot more about Helen in particular as events of her past catch up with current events in the story.
I have to confess that I had a prime suspect for the crimes that Stephen Bates was accused of fairly early on, but was completely off the mark thanks to some subtle red herrings in the text. It was, therefore, a complete surprise when the real bad guy was eventually unmasked at the climax to proceedings.
Excellent writing, a great plot and some very thought-provoking themes – how would we cope of one of our loved ones was accused or a terrible crime whilst we remained convinced of their innocence despite seemingly overwhelming evidence to the contrary? All in all, a great British crime thriller…