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The Murder Book: A Tom Thorne Novel


The Murder Book: A Tom Thorne Novel

There is nothing quite like a Tom Thorne thriller, and thankfully Mark Billingham has been providing us with them for the past two decades. The latest entry in the series is THE MURDER BOOK, and it brings back Thorne and his trusty band of colleagues to take on a case that could be the most personal one of his career.

As Thorne, in his typical manner, is speaking with the wife of a man just found murdered and brutalized in his bed, he looks past her to notice something that he’s surprised she didn’t catch --- the two wine glasses that are out in the sitting room. It’s obvious that Richard Sumner was having a tryst that went awfully bad, and Thorne would allow that detail to remain unspoken in front of the grieving widow. A test of the wine glasses shows that one of them was definitely female, meaning that Thorne, Nicola Tanner and Phil Hendricks are looking for a lady killer.

"THE MURDER BOOK is unlike any other Tom Thorne thriller that I have read. It is quite unusual to see our protagonist on his heels as he is for much of the latter part of this intense novel."

It turns out that Sumner had used a service called Sugar-Dad-E, which led him to meet up with someone named Jasmine. For those who have not had the pleasure of enjoying a murder case with Thorne, Tanner puts it best when she describes his personality on the job as “[m]iserable as sin, but not nearly as much fun. Stubborn and over-inclined to feel sorry for himself, but with a good heart and the best intentions…” However, she initially has no idea where this particular case will take her good friend and how it will tax him.

A second male victim, Hari Reddy, is found in similar fashion, left behind by an escort from This will be quickly followed by a third, Thomas Bristow. The solid police work of Thorne, Tanner and Hendricks brings in a suspect, Rebecca Louise Driver, who is booked for the three murders. A search of her place turns up missing body parts from the deceased men.

However, something doesn’t feel right about the case. Thorne’s girlfriend and team member, Dr. Melita Perera, believes that Driver is being a little too helpful. She could not have been more correct as the next surprise she has in store for Thorne and his team is one that none of them saw coming. The scalpel that was used as the primary murder weapon tested not only for the blood of the victims, it also showed blood traces from Hendricks. Upon further investigation, it appears that the scalpel once belonged to Stuart Nicklin, who had cut out a piece of skin from Hendricks’ back on a case. He is an extremely dangerous killer who they were unable to apprehend, and he is somehow working with Driver to let them know that he is still out there and watching them.

The death toll continues to rise. With the murder book on this case starting to grow thick, and Thorne and his team beginning to get extremely nervous that this madman will stop at nothing to get to them and their families, it has suddenly become so much more than a mere murder case. THE MURDER BOOK is unlike any other Tom Thorne thriller that I have read. It is quite unusual to see our protagonist on his heels as he is for much of the latter part of this intense novel. Well done, Mr. Billingham.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 29, 2022

The Murder Book: A Tom Thorne Novel
by Mark Billingham

  • Publication Date: July 4, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802161774
  • ISBN-13: 9780802161772