Mark Billingham has been on my must read list for many years. I love his DI Tom Thorne series. His newest book is a stand alone called Die of Shame.
Six recovering addicts meet on Monday nights in their therapist's home office. They are varied group - straight, gay, rich, poor, male, female, working, unemployed, young, old etc. But addiction doesn't discriminate.
Billingham employs a then and now format in his novel. (I always enjoy this style - two stories running concurrently until they inevitably collide.) Then is meeting the participants, sitting in on the group meeting, observing the interactions, the dynamics and the tensions. And Tony the therapist's questionable therapy method. He wants each member to expose the thing they are most ashamed of in front of the others.....
The now? One of the members is dead. Is it a random killing? Could it be one of the remaining five? The reader is privy to insider knowledge that the police don't have - what happens in the circle can't be repeated.
Spliced into the story are short meetings between a convict and an unknown visitor. " '...all those questions, and I reckon you just want to know what it's like.....To kill someone.' 'The visitor's face breaks into a grin. Oh I wouldn't worry too much about that. I'll know for myself soon enough."
Billingham has written a slower paced suspense novel this time 'round. The focus is more on the characters, their actions, reactions, mindsets, thoughts and judgements rather than on crime details. Die of Shame is more of a psychological mystery than a plot driven read.
I thought all of the players were extremely well drawn - none of them are very likable, but the reader still feels empathy. I thought Billingham did a good job of depicting recovering addicts. There was one character that I had my suspicions about. And I was proven right - but the reason behind it was a surprise. The investigating team of Tanner and Chall are also given a good backstory (especially Tanner - it would be nice to see more of her) and do their job well, but I wasn't as invested in them as Tom Thorne. (Yes, I miss him)
The last sentence of the book was absolutely perfect and had me exclaiming out loud. I'm very curious if this will go further or it was just a nice little ending to grab the reader. Read an excerpt of Die of Shame.