Beach reading. Mark Billingham is the author of five previous crime thrillers, all featuring police detective Tom Thorne. He is also a stand up comedian, yet these are humourless books. This one follows, in some detail, an investigation into the kidnapping of one Luke Mullen, whose father is an ex-police chief who, naturally, has a murky past. At 400 pages this book feels padded. There is plenty of small talk, and a good number of unnecessary scenes, particularly car journeys. Readers of the previous instalments will get more from this book than first timers Ã¢Â€Â“ it does have a style of sorts, but it's an acquired taste. These books have been praised for a realistic approach to police work, but in practice this means that you are given too good a sense of how dull that work can be. The plot develops slowly, even with the standard shocks, and this is deadly for a thriller. Billingham fans will probably enjoy catching up with DI Thorne, but others will find too little to distinguish this from other books of the genre. [Keir Hind]
Published by Little, Brown. Out Now. Cover Price Ã‚Â£12.99.