Review: The Bones Beneath by Mark Billingham (5/5)

Tuesday 20 May 2014
The Deal
Tom Thorne is back in charge - but there's a terrifying price to pay. Stuart Nicklin, the most dangerous psychopath he has ever put behind bars, promises to reveal the whereabouts of a body he buried twenty-five years before. But only if Thorne agrees to escort him.

The Danger
Unable to refuse, Thorne gathers a team and travels to a remote Welsh island, at the mercy of the weather and cut off from the mainland. Thorne is determined to get the job done and return home before Nicklin can outwit them.

The Deaths
But Nicklin knows this island well and has had time to plan ahead. Soon, new bodies are added to the old, and Thorne finds himself facing the toughest decision he has ever had to make...

Tom Thorne returns in this utterly gripping, brilliantly plotted thriller. The Bones Beneath is Mark Billingham's most ambitious and accomplished work to date.

Before I even start telling you how amazing this book is I have to say thank you to Little, Brown for sending me a review copy of this book. Mark is one of the best crime writers ever and one of my favourites. His books are always amongst my most anticipated every year and so receiving this book early was amazing and this is easily the best book post I've received since starting the blog. 

So, the actual book itself... I seem to be repeating myself every time I finish the latest books by my favourite authors by saying it was their best book yet, but this really was! I can't believe it's the 12th Thorne book. That is a huge achievement for any author and as this was the best book yet I am hoping Mark will be writing Thorne books for many more years to come. Thorne is easily one of the best fictional detectives ever created and one of my all time favourite male characters. I just love reading about him.

The book kicks off immediately getting us reacquainted with Thorne and his colleague Dave Holland. In the previous book Thorne almost lost both his life and his job, he was already close to losing it anyway, being back in uniform and unable to follow the rules (for newbies, following rules isn't really Thorne's strong point...) however in this book Thorne is back out of uniform and is once again in charge. 

DCI Russell Brigstocke has some bad news for Thorne. Stuart Nicklin, one of the most evil characters Thorne has ever put away has decided to tell the police where a body is that he buried 20 odd years ago on a remote Welsh island. The only problem is he will only show Thorne, and so Thorne has to escort Nicklin to this Welsh island in the hope of actually achieving something and not being given the runaround. Nicklin however wants to bring along a friend, and Thorne has a few conditions of his own, choosing the people he will be taking with him for a start. 

Stuart Nicklin is an evil but extremely fascinating character to read about. All too often in crime fiction we are given some psychopathic characters who go on murderous rampages every other page and just wreak havoc and whilst that's enjoyable, it doesn't really affect me, however it is the characters like Nicklin that really hit home for me. You can imagine them existing in real life as they do each and every day on the news and the story just feels all the more real because of that. He is a master manipulator and the reader knows he has a plan when he gets to the island, what that plan is however is anybody's guess and let me tell you when it was revealed I was left speechless. Now having read crime fiction for many years I like to guess killers and plots early on in books however the twist here I simply did not see coming and this just made the book a hundred times more enjoyable. 

Mark has manipulated the reader just as well as Nicklin manipulated Thorne and I applaud him for writing what I think is one of his best and most exciting books to date. The plot twist actually made my jaw drop. One of my favourite things about Mark's books is Thorne's London, it just comes alive on the page for me and so I was wary, as with when he went to Spain, about Thorne leaving London but it worked fantastically well. The setting here was brilliant, eery and atmospheric and just the perfect setting for a book like this. Mark's latest newsletter tells us that the next Thorne book will also take him out of London and I can't wait though I am itching for Thorne to have another case in the capital.

Fans of Billingham are really going to love this book I think, and those new to this author could read this as a standalone but as the Thorne books are some of the best the genre has to offer I seriously recommend starting from the beginning. It's been a while since I read the first few Thorne books but I'm thinking a reread may be on the cards sooner rather than later. Please do not hesitate to pick up and devour this book, I had it finished in just over a day. A brilliant and unputdownable read from one of the best authors in the business.

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