Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham

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Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It began with a fraud: a case which DI Tom Thorne really shouldn't have been investigating but it developed into a murder. It's a cracking story which I read far too quickly. An easy five stars and highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: May 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0751566970

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There are times when two people come together and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts as in the case of, say, Morecambe and Wise. Sometimes two people come together and we get Folie à Deux - a shared psychotic disorder which produces devastating consequences. One of the prime examples is Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. But - I'm getting ahead of myself as our story started with a suicide. A middle-aged woman had been gulled out of £75,000 by a man called Patrick Jenkins, but once he had the money he disappeared and ghosted his former lover. She threw herself in front of a tube train.

It was when he was looking for his next victim that he met Sarah. On the face of it she was just an ordinary single mother taking her son, Jamie, to and from school and trying to make ends meet by doing some writing. She encountered Patrick Jenkins - or Conrad as he's now known - in the upmarket coffee shop where the mothers and the occasional father met up after drop-off. Conrad was thinking of Sarah as his next victim, but he can spot a liar when he sees one and it's not long before he realises that Jamie doesn't exist. It's not long, either, before he moves in with Sarah and her imaginary child with devastating results.

DI Tom Thorne shouldn't have been investigating the case at all, but there was something about the suicide that unsettled him, beginning with the way that the body bag sagged when they lifted it off the tube tracks and he began to look for the man he knew only as Patrick Jenkins. Other cases might have pushed this one into the background, but Jenkins' DNA turned up at a murder scene and Tom Thorne and Nicola Tanner were charged with investigating the case.

My first choice in reading matter is always a police procedural and I have certain series which I look out for. Ian Rankin used to be one of them, but Rebus has gone off the boil for me. Val McDermid has not and I devour whatever she writes. New favourites are Jane Casey and Robert Galbraith. Some authors have stood the test of time and one of those is Mark Billingham, so there was no hesitation when Their Little Secret landed on my desk - in fact I had to struggle not to put down the book I was reading and start on this one.

Characterisation is brilliant. Thorne and Tanner make a splendid combination: both are struggling with the loss of a relationship - albeit in different circumstances. For me, one of the great things about this series is that the personal lives of Thorne and Tanner are simply background: it influences how they are, but not what happens. Each book in the series that I've read could be read as a standalone: you might know what happens next to Thorne or Tanner, but it won't spoil your enjoyment of the book.

It's the plot you want to know about, though, isn't it? Well, it's a cracker. It begins almost inconsequentially. A suicide is always sad: it's awful to think that someone's life should become a burden to them, but you know that it's not likely to be a police matter. You understand Thorne's reluctance to let it go, but you know he should and there's almost a sense of relief when his instincts are vindicated. Then there's a sense of horror as you watch what unfolds. It's another of those books which you think you'll read over several days, but for which you give up sleep because you have to know what happens. It's a highly-recommended, brilliant book and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey featuring DC Maeve Kerringan. If you'd like to stick with Thorne and Tanner then you could treat yourself by starting at the beginning of the series.

Mark Billingham's D I Tom Thorne Novels in Chronological Order

Buy Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham at

Buy Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham at


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