Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham - book review

Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham
Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham

Suicide has never ‘agreed’ with DI Tom Thorne and when a woman throws herself under a train on the London Underground, he is determined to start searching for some answers.

He might be a murder detective but Thorne has always found that the questions thrown up by a suicide were the ones that bothered him the most because, nine times out of ten, he was never going to find the answers.

Their Little Secret is the amazing sixteenth novel in Mark Billingham’s bestselling DI Tom Thorne crime series and the master storyteller, who has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Crime Novel of the Year, and the Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British writer, is on stunning form.

Their Little Secret is police procedural at its best as Thorne, his work partner, DI Nicola Tanner, and larger-than-life pathologist Phil Hendricks become caught up in a suspense-packed, two-pronged case which begins with a suicide and features a relationship so toxic that readers will be reaching for the smelling salts.

When Thorne is called to conduct a routine assessment at the site of a suicide, he expects to be in and out in no time. But when he arrives at the Tube station, where a woman named Philippa Goodwin threw herself in front of a train, Thorne inexplicably senses something is not right and feels compelled to dig deeper.

Philippa’s sister reveals that she had been the victim of a callous conman called Patrick Jennings who preys on vulnerable women. He talked Philippa into giving him £75,000 for a business venture and then disappeared. It was despair over the deception that led Philippa to take her own life.

Despite the case not falling into the category of a murder, Thorne enlists DI Nicola Tanner to help him track down the swindler and bring him to justice. But the detectives get more than they bargained for when a 17-year-old youth’s brutally bludgeoned body turns up on the beach at Margate in Kent and there is a DNA match to Philippa’s flat.

Meanwhile, we meet divorcée Sarah who likes to think of herself as a normal single mum. It's what she wants others to think of her too. But the truth is, she needs something new, something thrilling.

And out there is a man who could be just who she is looking for… a man who knows she is as liar and is about to change Sarah’s life forever.

The different strands of this case are about to come together in a way that neither of the detectives could have foreseen…

Their Little Secret is another white-knuckle ride alongside one of the most charismatic teams in crime fiction as they delve deep into a disturbing web of deceit, obsession, mental instability and a fatal attraction that can only end in death and despair.

This is a chilling, multi-layered case which explores some very disturbing and complex psychology, and sends our tried and trusted detectives on a twisting, turning investigation peopled with fascinating, fleshed-out characters and featuring a labyrinthine plot that embraces the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

As with all the books in this series, the latest Thorne and Tanner mystery can easily be read as a standalone but with riveting stories like this, newcomers will certainly be tempted to go all the way back to the opener, Sleepyhead, and enjoy every step of the exhilarating journey.

(Little, Brown, hardback, £18.99)