Die of Shame by Mark Billingham
|Die of Shame by Mark Billingham|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Elegantly plotted, great characters and a compelling read. If you enjoy thrillers and police procedurals then this is the book for you.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 448/11h9m||Date: May 2016|
|Publisher: Little Brown|
|External links: Author's website|
A group of addicts - the addictions differ - meet regularly at the home of their therapist, Tony De Silva, himself a former addict. On the night we join them, Chris, Robin, Heather and Diana are surprised to see that there's an extra chair in the circle. It changes the dynamics of the group, but the newcomer is Caroline and she's a large lady - but although she likes her food it's painkillers that she's addicted to. There's no obvious reason why Caroline's arrival should make such a difference to the group - she's keen to fit in - but it does and before many weeks have passed one of the group is murdered. It's increasingly obvious that one of the group is responsible.
Die of Shame is one of those wonderful books which doesn't quite fit into any accepted category: it's a police procedural in the sense that we're party to the investigation of the murder, but we hear about what has happened (Then) within the therapy group and socially outside it as well as hearing how the investigation progresses (Now). Nicola Tanner and Dipak Chall's investigation is always going to be subsidiary in the reader's mind as we know what has happened in the therapy sessions (or will get to know in good time) whilst the police are hampered by the client confidentiality of the therapy sessions. It produces some intriguing nuances.
It could be a thriller: as we get closer to the denouement the tension ramps up. We're following more than one main thread: in addition to the murder, someone is attempting to blackmail a member of the group who confessed to actions which would have cost him his job had he been found out at the time. The blackmailer is relying on the fact that it still could, even years on. Are the blackmailer and the murderer the same person? There's an assumption that this must be the case, but the members of the group are all recovering addicts and there's agreement that an addict will do anything to feed the habit.
The characters are strong enough to carry the book without the excellent plot, but the plotting is elegant and I had everyone but the murderer chalked in as the villain of the piece. It was a deeply satisfying read and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
In addition to reading the book, I also listened to an audio download (which I bought myself). The narrator is the author and this normally makes me very nervous, as too many authors are of the opinion that narration means 'reading aloud nicely' but I was pleasantly surprised. Billingham had a good range of voices which were reasonably easy to distinguish (within an admittedly limited cast) and there were only occasional instances of one voice bleeding into another. This was more than offset by the lack of the main problem with a third party narrator - that of having someone intrude between the reader and the author with their view of how the words should be interpreted. At just over eleven hours it's a recording I'll return to in future.
If this book appeals then we can also recommend The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons, which is also available as an audio download.
Die of Shame by Mark Billingham is in the Top Ten Crime Novels 2016.
You can read more book reviews or buy Die of Shame by Mark Billingham at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You could get a free audio download of Die of Shame by Mark Billingham with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Die of Shame by Mark Billingham at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.