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by Mark Billingham
Little Brown UK, July 2003
368 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0316724939

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The body of a recently released rapist is found sodomized, strangled, and posed on a mattress in a room in a seedy flophouse near Paddington Station (note to the author: When was the last time you visited Paddington.It's gone quite upscale. We'll take this as literary licence.) All the linens had been removed. An especially gruesome touch was the funeral wreath, delivered to the room.

The main question that DI Tom Thorne and his team want answered is who lured Douglas Andrew Renfry to this hotel room just 10 days after being released from prison. Two more recently released rapists are found murdered, each in an hotel room suited to his personality. Who is luring these men to their deaths, and is it really a crime that they have been murdered?

Twenty-five years before a woman had been raped. As was the custom of the time, the counsel for the defense put the woman on trial. Even her husband began to doubt her. After a while, she never even left the house. And her husband killed her and committed suicide. The bodies were discovered by their children.

The book alternates between the current day murders and the original rape and its aftermath. The police team is shown to be a reasonably cohesive friendly unit. One of its members, a civilian psychologist is gay, but is completely accepted by his co-workers.

There seems to be no link among the current day crimes, until Carol Chamberlain, a retired police officer is called back to work on cold cases. Her cold case turns very warm and the current and past cases join.

This is the third in the series. I had heard good things about SLEEPYHEAD, but the subject matter of that, and the next in the series SCAREDYCAT, terrified me too much to attempt to read them. For a stand up comedian, Mark Billingham writes about scary stuff.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, June 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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