“He remembered some movie where the cop would stand in the houses where people had been and commune with the killer….For Thorne, it just came down to wanting to know something about the victim…Something simple and stupid would usually do it. A picture on a bedroom wall. The biscuits they kept in the kitchen cupboard or the book that they would never finish reading…As for what went on in the mind of the killer, Thorne was happy knowing just enough to catch him and no more.”
Emily Watson has been brutally murdered. There is no sign of forced entry so the obvious conclusion is that Emily knew her killer. As expected, the first suspect is her husband, but when a time of death is narrowed, George Watson has a perfect alibi. A teacher at a nearby school, George comes home for lunch everyday, stays an hour, and returns home for the day in mid-afternoon, except on Wednesday when he supervises a chess club. Emily is killed on a Wednesday; the killer has taken the time to know the Watsons’ schedule. Clutched in the palm of her hand, is a piece of film cut from an xray. When other bodies are discovered, killed in the same way, another piece of the xray folded into the palm, the police, and the public, realize there is a serial killer at large. As the identities of the victims, male and female, are revealed, the murders take on an even more bizarre element. Each victim is the child of a woman murdered by Raymond Garvey over fifteen years ago. Garvey is in prison but there are no shortage of books written about the murders. Someone is using the information about the Garvey killings as a script for these new murders.
Garvey killed seven women. Thorne and his team have to find the copycat killer but they also have to find the other potential victims before the killer does.
I have enjoyed all the books in the Tom Thorne series and I look forward to more. If a formula works for an author and for the reader, it doesn’t seem that there is anything wrong with the author using a template that pleases most who will read the book. It isn’t possible for everyone to be pleased all the time so every time an author launches a book, it is as if the author is taking a high dive into a pool with circling sharks. When I discover an author who is new to me, if there is a series, I start at the beginning. I don’t read the books in the series, one immediately after another. It keeps the series fresher for the reader; if there are flaws from one book to another, they aren’t glaring.
Mark Billingham is an exceptional writer; each of the books in the Thorne series offers new puzzles and new insights into the characters. After reading BLOODLINE, I looked at reviews of the book posted on Amazon UK. More than a few critiques were aimed at Mr. Billingham’s series, carping about “formula” and “predictability” rather than discussing this one book. The Tom Thorne series is one of the best available and the books are satisfying from beginning to end.Billingham has devised plots in various books that include inducing locked-in syndrome, serial killers working in tandem, street people and Gulf Was veterans being killed seemingly without motive, and guilty people being convicted for crimes they didn’t commit while escaping justice for the ones they did. I look forward to more about Thorne and the interesting characters, Holland, Hendricks, Louise, and others who people the stories.