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Good As Dead [Paperback]

Mark Billingham
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 11 2012 Tom Thorne Novels (Book 10)
Police officer Helen Weeks walks into her local newsagent's on her way to work. It's the last place she expects to be met with violence, but she is about to come face to face with a gunman. The hostage-taker is desperate to know what happened to his beloved son, who died a year before in youth custody. By holding Helen at gunpoint, he will force a re-investigation into his son's death. And one man knows the case better than any other - DI Tom Thorne. As the body count rises,Thorne must race against time to bring a killer to justice and save a young mother's life.

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Review

A rollercoaster of a read... confirms Billingham's status as one of the finest crime writers around Daily Express Taut and tense, with an unusually sympathetic hostage-taker The Times The best thrillers make you see familiar territory in a new light. Mark Billingham has always done that Sunday Telegraph With DI Tom Thorne's 10th outing, Mark Billingham proves he's a real contender for the title of the nation's top crime writer Daily Mirror Just as we become used to (and are perhaps wearying of) the influx of foreign crime novels, here comes Mark Billingham with a thoroughly British police thriller Time Out Utterly engaging... The series' page-turning credentials remain more than intact Independent on Sunday Books of the Year

About the Author

Mark Billingham is the author of eleven bestselling novels and the creator of the Thorne series. He has twice won the Theakston's Old Peculier prize for best novel of the year. He lives in North London with his family.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hostage Sept. 26 2011
By Ted Feit TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This novel is the latest'the 10th'in the Tom Thorne series featuring a British cop of a different stripe. His approach to solving a crime is to achieve a conclusion by any means. And, in this book, he shows no mercy.

It begins when D.S. Helen Weeks enters her local news agent's shop to buy her customary candy bar and ends up, along with another customer, as a hostage to the proprietor, who then demands that Thorne find the murderer of his son. Some months before, Thorne had been the arresting officer when the boy surrendered for killing another lad in self-defense. He received an eight-year sentence, rather an extreme incarceration based on the case. While in prison, he was attacked and taken to the hospital where he was later found dead of an overdose of drugs. His father refuses to accept the verdict that the death was a suicide.

Forced to reopen the case and 'find the truth,' Thorne fights against time and Helen's predicament. The time frame of the novel is three days, which certainly speeds up the action both behind the closed doors of the shop, as well as vis-à-vis Thorne's progress. The psychological aspects of the hostage system: the interchanges between Weeks and her captor, and the uncertainties of the situation, are manifested in the shifting conversations between the two. In contrast are the fears and doubts of the police officials outside who cannot determine what, if any, efforts should be made to free the hostages and apprehend the news agent. Thorne's quick determination that the news agent's belief is correct - - that rather than suicide, his son was murdered - - comes quickly, just as the various pieces of the puzzle are unveiled one by one. Nevertheless, Thorne is really a delightful and intriguing character, and the well-written scenario moves forward briskly. Recommended.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good As It Gets Aug. 18 2011
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The last Mark Billingham book I read was In The Dark, which I found a refreshing and successful change for the author, both in writing style and in taking the focus away from his regular character DI Thorne. It wasn't a change that was to everyone's taste however, so while I was slightly disappointed to find that Good As Dead is back more or less to the standard procedural of crime investigation with Tom Thorne back in the driving seat, that's still not a bad place to be, demonstrating as it does the author's strong authentic characterisation and awareness of the contemporary issues relating to police investigation. Often that's in relation to the difficult areas of race, social, political and internal police affairs, but Billingham also introduces a few interesting touches of its own here in what turns out to be an intriguing case.

At the start however, Good As Dead seems like it's setting up a fairly standard situation, when the Indian owner of a cornershop, seemingly fed-up with the daily hassle and abuse he has to put up with from young kids, cracks and barricades himself into the shop, holding a couple of hostages at gunpoint. One of the people being held is police officer Helen Weeks (introduced in In The Dark), and it's no coincidence either. The man, Mr Akhtar, is actually upset about the death of his son Amin, who recently died in a prison cell. Akhtar doesn't believe the official verdict of suicide and he's going to hold the siege for as long as it takes for DI Thorne, who was involved in the original case, to find out the truth behind his boy's death. Time is of the essence and, looking into the matter, Thorne - with help from his regular team of officers - indeed finds that something isn't quite right about the case. Not only is it difficult however to find any evidence for what he believes to be the reality of the situation, but he isn't sure that the boy's father will be at all appeased by what he finds out.

That much seems like standard police procedural, but it gradually becomes clear that things are not that straightforward. What is also not straightforward or regular is Mark Billingham's treatment of the subject. Billingham is not afraid to delve into contentious areas in the matter of police investigation - Thorne, Weeks, Hendricks, Holland and Kitson are all human and prone to lapses of judgement - or in the area of race and social issues that reflects the reality on the streets of the London and the UK. Sometimes this is evident in just simple little touches and humour that reveals a lot about the characters, and sometimes, it gets right to the heart of prejudices, discrimination and criminality on a bigger scale, revealing the complications that make handling of such matters politically sensitive as well as personally hazardous.

Good As Dead has two things going for it then that help it rise above just being an average crime procedural. On the one hand, you have a character like Thorne, who reacts like most people would in relation to what happens here and occasionally has moments when he would like to take the law into his own hands (and the reader would love to see him do it), but he knows, on balance, just how far to push this. Secondly, Billingham orchestrates events brilliantly, even in a regular investigation and a siege situation, bringing the resolution around to an immensely satisfying conclusion. You really can't ask for more than that
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly different perspective Nov. 9 2011
By Midnight - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This story brings together the author's DI Tom Thorne character from the very successful series of novels and DS Helen Weeks who featured in the central role of the standalone novel 'In The Dark' - which also featured Thorne albeit in a small cameo role. This is the tenth in the actual DI Tom Thorne series.

Javed Akhtar believes his son, Amin, did not kill himself while he was serving time in a Young Offenders Institute, that he would never kill himself and Javed feels the truth has been covered up. Thorne is the one who sent his son to prison ... so Thorne is the one who must find out who murdered him.

To get the matter investigated further, Javed holds two hostages at gunpoint, including DS Helen Weeks and appears to want nothing but answers. However, Helen has doubts Thorne can provide the answers Javed was looking for.

Sue Pascoe is the Police Negotiator. She knows the slightest break in routine could wreck many days of delicate negotiation and be enough to push a hostage taker over the edge.

I have always enjoyed Mark Billingham's books - his stories are well written, the characters are properly developed, interesting and plausible; dialogue flows agreeable and the stories do exactly what they should - provide entertainment.

I had been looking forward to reading this book and anticipated getting through it very quickly. However, initially I found it seemed to meander along and didn't draw me into the 'I simply cannot put this book down' mode, which normally is the all consuming case with any of my favourite authors' books.

For me, it certainly picked up as it drew towards the finale and seemed to have a change of pace back to more of the style I expect from Mark Billingham with DI Thorne.

I would still recommend it as a thoroughly good read as it provides another tale in an excellent series.

The books in order are:
Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels) 2001; Scaredy Cat (Tom Thorne Novels) 2002; Lazybones (Tom Thorne Novels) 2003; The Burning Girl (Tom Thorne Novels) 2004; Lifeless (Tom Thorne Novels) 2005; Buried (Tom Thorne Novels) 2006; Death Message (Tom Thorne Novels) 2007; Bloodline 2009; From the Dead 2010; also the standalone novel In the Dark 2008, in which DS Helen Weeks is the pivotal character with Tom Thorne having a minor cameo role.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hostage Oct. 31 2011
By Ted Feit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This novel is the latest--the 10th--in the Tom Thorne series featuring a British cop of a different stripe. His approach to solving a crime is to achieve a conclusion by any means. And, in this book, he shows no mercy.

It begins when D.S. Helen Weeks enters her local news agent's shop to buy her customary candy bar and ends up, along with another customer, as a hostage to the proprietor, who then demands that Thorne find the murderer of his son. Some months before, Thorne had been the arresting officer when the boy surrendered for killing another lad in self-defense. He received an eight-year sentence, rather an extreme incarceration based on the case. While in prison, he was attacked and taken to the hospital where he was later found dead of an overdose of drugs. His father refuses to accept the verdict that the death was a suicide.

Forced to reopen the case and "find the truth," Thorne fights against time and Helen's predicament. The time frame of the novel is three days, which certainly speeds up the action both behind the closed doors of the shop, as well as vis-à-vis Thorne's progress. The psychological aspects of the hostage system: the interchanges between Weeks and her captor, and the uncertainties of the situation, are manifested in the shifting conversations between the two. In contrast are the fears and doubts of the police officials outside who cannot determine what, if any, efforts should be made to free the hostages and apprehend the news agent. Thorne's quick determination that the news agent's belief is correct - - that rather than suicide, his son was murdered - - comes quickly, just as the various pieces of the puzzle are unveiled one by one. Nevertheless, Thorne is really a delightful and intriguing character, and the well-written scenario moves forward briskly. Recommended.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another cracker from one of the best Sept. 2 2011
By Craig Sisterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
There are few if any authors better than Billingham when it comes to maintaining a high quality, ever-evolving, contemporary British cop series over a large number of books.

His tenth novel to feature DI Tom Thorne finds the gritty London copper in a race against the clock to save the life of police officer Helen Weeks and a passerby being held hostage by a bereaved man who's snapped. But what does the gunman want? Not money or escape, but simply for the Police, and Thorne in particular, to investigate the death of his son in custody, a year before.

Not so simple, as all official reports and signs point to the son's suicide - a young man unable to deal with the unusually harsh sentence he received for an understandable crime. But was there a cover-up, perhaps going to the highest levels? Thorne initially agrees to investigate in order to buy the hostages some time, but then begins to question the official version, as the clock ticks down to the time when the cops will go in, guns blazing.

A slickly told, top-notch crime thriller that has plenty going on underneath the plot and action, from one of the modern masters of the genre.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked on Tom Thorne May 12 2014
By Charlotte Krueger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am hooked on the Tom Thorne series. I like the London setting and enjoy Mark Billingham's style of writing.
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