Saturday, April 21, 2012
Good as Dead by Mark Billingham published by Little Brown
Billingham is one of the big names in crime fiction. His cops are human and focussed on doing their jobs well. In this story a visit to a convenience store by a police woman quickly becomes a crisis as the store owner pulls a gun and takes Helen and another customer hostage. Mr Akhtar’s son was taken into custody a year ago and the investigations have determined his death 8 weeks ago was suicide. This resolution is not acceptable to this father. In his heart it does not ring true with the son he knew.
The response by the police gets complicated when Mr Akhtar insists that DI Thorne must investigate what really happened. Time is against him as the hostage situation gets more and more tense. Slowly but surely Thorne digs through the known facts trying to unearth the truth of what happened in the youth institution that young Amin was held in. What lead up to the crime he went down for? Was he really guilty? Why was he in the area and the big question is why and how did he actually die? A key part of this story is young Amin’s sexuality. His parent’s knowledge or lack of knowledge of his life typifies most families. The depraved lives lead by the adults in the world he is growing up in have not made his life an easy one.
The plot develops steadily. Thorne has been in previous Billingham novels; however familiarity with previous books is unnecessary to enjoy this one. There are plenty of twists and personal connections to flesh out this novel and they all add together to make it a very enjoyable read.