I have been an ardent fan of Mark Billingham from book one in his Detective Tom Thorne series. The Demands is the tenth offering in this British crime series.
Detective Sergeant Helen Weeks stops regularly into Javed Akhtar's corner shop for her morning paper and gum. Akhtar has just chased some young hooligans out of his store when he abruptly turns, locks the door on Helen and a male customer....and pulls a gun. Helen and Stephen are now his hostages.
His demands? For Detective Tom Thorne to investigate his son Amin's death while in custody. It was ruled suicide but Akhtar doesn't believe it.
Thorne is in a race against time - and an unstable man - to re investigate a closed case.
Why do I enjoy this series so much? Billingham always comes up with an arresting plot that provides some unexpected turns. The tension ratchets higher as Thorne discovers truths that Akhtar may not want to hear. We are privy to the drama in the shop through Helen's eyes. Helen has appeared in a previous book and is another strongly drawn character I was glad to see return. Billingham's plot also includes some relevant social commentary.
But of course the real draw is Tom Thorne. Thorne is ornery, obstinate and driven to solve his cases at almost any cost. This lands him on a fine line between right and wrong many times. His single mindedness has cost him in many ways, both professionally and personally. But his persistence usually pays off.
I loved the ending and cannot wait for the next installment in this gritty, gripping series.
Who else is reading and recommending Mark Billingham? Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Gillian Flynn. And me!
on September 26, 2011
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.