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BURIED
by Mark Billingham
Little, Brown, May 2006
416 pages
12.99GBP
ISBN: 0316730505


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DI Tom Thorne isn't what you'd call the flavour of the month, Six months after his escapades in LIFELESS, he's mooching round the office, shuffling paperwork. Then suddenly he's packed off to help out on a kidnapping case.

The missing lad is the son of a former cop, and Thorne soon discovers the guy's being a bit selective in what he tells the investigating team. So they wonder just which blast from his past might be looking for revenge.

BURIED is an absolute page-turner, and a classic example in how to keep a series fresh. And it's helped by a strong selection of characters to back up the maverick Thorne -- the new DI Louise Porter, plus the familiar faces of DCI Brigstocke, DS Holland and Phil Hendricks, the pathologist.

Billingham's characters move and grow as the series progresses. Thorne is still coming to terms with the death of his father a year before. Holland is getting used to being a father. Hendricks -- one of my favourite characters -- has split up with his boyfriend and instead of going out on the pull is behaving rather strangely. And he's being very cagey about why the relationship with what looked like Mr Right is over.

The setting is such a key part of Billingham's books. His sharp, economical, slightly laconic style paints a vivid picture of the dirty and heaving streets of London, and of the different police buildings within which territorial battles reign.

As you might guess of a bloke whose day job used to be a stand-up comedian, he can do black humour. But he also tempers this with the ability to bring the reader up short. In one scene, which acts like a punch to the stomach, Hendricks tells Thorne why he's been acting oddly, all to a backdrop of Iris DeMent's mournful music -- there's a running gag through the book about Thorne liking 'twangy guitar shit'!

This is an excellent and strong addition ot a long-running series. My only gripe is that Billingham doesn't play fair with the reader at a key point. So if you expect to be in with a chance of working out whodunit at about the same time as the hero does, you're going to be very miffed here! But hey, get over it. BURIED is one of the best books you'll read this year.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, May 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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