Bloodline (Tom Thorne #8) by Mark Billingham
Publisher: Little, Brown/July. 2010
Tom Thorne Series
A killer is on the loose. The victims: children whose mothers can’t protect them.
The past is coming back to haunt the people of London: a murderer is targeting the children of victims of Raymond Garvey, an infamous serial killer from London’s past.
When Murder Squad veteran Detective Tom Thorne, who solves the London Police Department’s most difficult cases, is called into what seems like, for once, an ordinary domestic murder, he thinks he’s caught a break. A woman has been murdered by someone she knows. Thorne plans to question the husband, arrest him and return home to deal with his own deteriorating personal life.
But when a mysterious sliver of bloodstained X-ray that was found clutched in the victim’s fist is replicated at other crime scenes around the city, Thorne realizes that this is not a simple case. As the bits of X-ray begin to come together to form a picture, it becomes clear that the killer knows his prey all too well and is moving through a list that was started long ago.
As Thorne attempts to protect those still alive, nothing and nobody are what they seem. Not when Thorne is dealing with one of the most twisted killers he has ever hunted.
One of my favorite British detectives, Tom Thorne, is back in his 8th brilliant novel from Mark Billingham. A woman is found suffocated to death in her home, and Thorne is hoping for a quick wrap up. When the husband is cleared as a suspect, and a piece of x-ray is discovered in the woman’s hand, Thorne realizes this may not be as simple as he thought. The body count keeps rising, and when a piece of x-ray is found with each body, it’s obvious that a serial killer is at work, but Thorne has no idea that depths that the killer will go to in order to complete his plans.
This is what Billingham is good at: building dread in increasing waves and pacing out chapters to generate maximum anticipation. He does it expertly in Bloodline while also managing to juggle some personal issues of Thorne’s on the side. His girlfriend, fellow cop Louise Porter, has just suffered a miscarriage, and Thorne is not quite sure how to feel about it. In reading these books, much of my time is spent wishing Thorne would open up to someone, anyone, about how he feels, and experiencing frustration when he internalizes nearly everything, keeping everyone he cares about at arm’s length. There is hope for Tom though, and he shows some definite promise in Bloodline, especially when he enlists the help of retired cop and old friend Carol Chamberlain (love her and was delighted that she made an appearance in this one). I was reminded very much of Silence of the Lambs in Bloodline, especially when the reveal is made and you feel those little icy fingers of dread dancing along your spine. The killer is brilliant and diabolical, and a force to be reckoned with, not to mention just pure evil. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming, and the last 20 pages or so will leave you gasping. I can’t wait for the next one in the series!