Title: Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 480 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Perfect strangers. A perfect holiday. The perfect murder.
In the standalone novel Rush of Blood, internationally bestselling author Mark Billingham puts a sinister twist on a deceptively innocent topic: the beach vacation.
Three British couples meet around the pool on their Florida holiday and become fast friends. But on Easter Sunday, the last day of their vacation, tragedy strikes: the fourteen-year-old daughter of an American vacationer goes missing, and her body is later found floating in the mangroves. When the shocked couples return home to the U.K., they remain in contact, and over the course of three increasingly fraught dinner parties they come to know one another better. But they don’t always like what they find. Buried beneath these apparently normal exteriors are some unusual kinks and unpleasant vices. Then, a second girl goes missing, in Kent—not far from where any of the couples lives. Could it be that one of these six has a secret far darker than anybody can imagine?
Ambitiously plotted and laced with dark humor, Rush of Blood is a first-rate suspense novel about the danger of making new friends in seemingly sunny places.
Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham is a captivating mystery about a teenager who goes missing on vacation and the three couples who “knew” her. Upon their return home, the couples resume their vacation friendship and eventually begin discussing the girl’s disappearance. When local police begin questioning them and another teenage girl goes missing, suspicions begin to arise that one of the six is responsible.
British couples, Angie and Barry Finnegan, Sue and Ed Dunning, and Marina Green and Dave Cullen are all staying at the same resort while on holiday in Sarasota, FL. They strike up a vacation friendship and they enjoy hanging out together around the pool and dining with each other at local restaurants. On their last night in town, their idyllic vacation is marred by the disappearance of a fellow vacationer’s fourteen year old daughter. Not letting the unfortunate incident ruin their last night in town, the couples exchange e-mail addresses and promise to keep in touch once they are back in the UK. Back home, Angie arranges the first of three increasingly tense dinner parties. Not long after each of the couples are re-interviewed by Detective Constable Jenny Quinlan, another young girl goes missing in the local area. Certain the same person is responsible for both the kidnappings, FL detective Jeff Gardner liaises with British detectives in hopes of catching the kidnapper/killer.
On the surface, each of the couples appears to be quite happy with their lives and relationships. However, once they return to their normal lives, they begin to see the cracks beneath the surface. Angie is a stay at home mom with plenty of time on her hands while her contractor husband Barry flies off the handle both at home and at work. Sue and Ed are long married but Ed has a wandering eye and he is not exactly being truthful about what he does while traveling for his work. Dave Cullen and Marina Green are the only couple who are not married but they seem to have a secure relationship even if they do appear to be a little mismatched. Marina is a beautiful woman who works part-time while she pursues her acting career whereas Dave somewhat of a computer geek.
DC Quinlan’s interviews with the couples reveal what the reader already knows: not everyone was honest when they were questioned by the police in FL. Some of these untruths were lies by omission while others were not so innocent efforts to conceal information. Unable to provide solid information about some of their movements on the afternoon the teenager went missing, Detective Gardner digs a little deeper and uncovers some very surprising information. Closer to home, DC Quinlan doggedly continues looking into each of the vacationers’ backgrounds and what she discovers definitely warrants further investigation.
Rush of Blood is a slow building whodunit where Mark Billingham provides very intimate peeks into the private lives of three British couples who meet by happenstance while vacationing in the US. When they return to their everyday lives, they begin to notice one another’s imperfections but does this mean one of them is a murderer? The truth about who is responsible for the kidnappings emerges at one of the diner parties but there are still plenty of unexpected twists and turns ahead as the novel comes to a very shocking conclusion. Another brilliant mystery that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend to fans of the genre.