It is always a pleasure to read another episode in the life of DI Tom Thorne from the magical and elegant handwriting style of Mark Billingham. This is English crime as its best, well researched, intelligent, informative with strong characters who aptly display their strengths and weaknesses for all to see. There are no quick solutions here but a story that unfolds like the petals of a rose revealing a nasty underbelly and one shocking revelation concerning one of the players with a personal secret to unfold. (to say more would spoil the surprise!)
Thorne and his partner police officer Helen Weeks are on a trip to the small Warwickshire town of Polesford where an old school friend of Helen's is in trouble and in great need of comfort and assurance, her partner Stephen Bates having been arrested and accused of murder. This is also meant to be a break for Tom and Helen but as Helen becomes ever more involved in the pain and heartbreak of her friend Linda our surly DI finds himself somewhat ignored and at a loss is drawn into the search for the two missing schoolgirls.
I love the relaxed and unpretentious style of Billingham and how he expertly portrays Thorne as a loner with very few friends apart from the somewhat colourful police pathologist Phil Hendricks. It was good to see that Hendricks once again became a central pivot as the story evolved, and his unconventional appearance and lifestyle acted in sharp contrast to the conservative Thorne.
As suggested above there are secrets to be revealed and a relationship tested to the extreme in a great example of modern British crime fiction. Highly Recommended.