Title: Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham
Tom Thorne Series Book Fourteen
Publisher: Atlantic Press Monthly
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Internationally bestselling author Mark Billingham’s riveting new novel Love Like Blood marks the return of series character Tom Thorne, “the next superstar detective” (Lee Child), as he pairs up with perfectionist detective inspector Nicola Tanner of Die of Shame on an investigation that ventures into politically sensitive territory.
DI Nicola Tanner needs Tom Thorne’s help. Her partner, Susan, has been brutally murdered and Tanner is convinced that it was a case of mistaken identity—that she was the real target. The murderer’s motive might have something to do with Tanner’s recent work on a string of cold-case honor killings she believes to be related. Tanner is now on compassionate leave but insists on pursuing the case off the books and knows Thorne is just the man to jump into the fire with her. He agrees but quickly finds that working in such controversial territory is dangerous in more ways than one. And when a young couple goes missing, they have a chance to investigate a case that is anything but cold. Racing towards a twist-filled ending, Love Like Blood is another feat of masterful plotting from one of Britain’s top crime novelists.
In Love Like Blood, DI Nicola Marsh turns to Tom Thorne for help following the murder of her girlfriend Susan Best. The investigation focuses on honour killings in this fourteenth installment of Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne series.
Having ruffled quite a few feathers while working for the Honour Crimes Unit, Nicola is certain she, not Susan, was killer’s intended target. Currently on compassionate leave following Susan’s death, she enlists Tom’s help in an off the books investigation that might be linked to the four year old unsolved murder of Meena Athwal. Nicola’s theory that parents in the Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh communities are hiring hitmen to kill their daughters whose behavior brings shame to their families is plausible but it has made her some powerful enemies. Eager to solve his cold case, Thorne agrees to investigate Susan’s death but will they uncover the truth before it is too late?
Tom is never afraid to step on toes, but he is uncharacteristically diplomatic as he tries to convince his boss DCI Brigstocke to let him investigate the current case of a missing young couple, Amaya Shah and Kamal Azim. He is also surprisingly honest about the fact that he is looking into Susan’s murder but he is careful to downplay Nicola’s involvement in the investigation. Now he has Brigstocke’s blessing to look into the disappearance of Shah and Azim, Tom is deeply troubled after his interviews with the victims’ families. Fortunately CCTV footage gives Thorne and Marsh a strong lead that supports the hitman theory. When Amaya’s body is discovered, Tom is frustrated when his boss insists he concentrate on locating her boyfriend Kamal after strong evidence leads everyone to believe he is most likely her killer.
The various investigations unfold at a rather slow pace but Tom and Nicola have many intriguing leads to pursue. Nicola has uncovered a possible link to three leaders in the Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh communities who are working together to combat the hate crimes directed toward them. Arman Bannerjee is the most charismatic of the three leaders and at the urging of his son, Ravi, he previously lodged a complaint against Nicola. Needless to say, Bannerjee is less than enthused to see her and Thorne at their meetings. Tom and Nicola cannot help but wonder if Arman’s animosity is an indication he is involved in the honour killings. When an attempt is made on Nicola’s life, Tom is certain they are the right track, but will he locate the suspected hitmen before they strike again?
Love Like Blood is a leisurely paced mystery with an refreshingly unique storyline. Nicola and Tom are a formidable team as they tenaciously pursue numerous leads in the investigation into the honour killings and Susan’s murder. Mark Billingham brings the novel to a jaw-dropping conclusion with a shocking plot twist that is impossible to predict. This latest release is another brilliant addition to the Tom Thorne series that old and new fans are going to love.