Book Review: Mark Billingham ~ Love Like Blood

Detective Inspector (DI) thriller novels follow a predictable path. Firstly there is a hideous murder, then a maverick brilliant dysfunctional DI wades in, followed by a denouement. So far so predictable. So why are they so popular? Apart from the charm of baddies getting their due deserts and the police being flawed, but wonderful, what else is there?

Love Like Blood is the 14th iteration of the DI Tom Thorne series demonstrating Billingham’s stamina. Billingham’s genius is: everyone knows Thorne will triumph and the baddies (who are truly awful) will suffer. Ever since Crime and Punishment it’s well established that obviousness is more-or-less irrelevant, what matters is the writing. Billingham isn’t Dostoevsky but he writes very well without ambition.

If Billingham had gone into Dostoevsky mode he’d have moved the genre on. We’d have known immediately who out-sourced the honour killings. Billingham’s plotting could have deepened the debate about honour and consequential inter-generational tensions. The novel would then have a nuanced, subtle, approach. I’m entirely sure that Billingham could do this but instead he’s written a 14th very readable (sadistic?) thriller. If you like that sort of book you’ll love this.

Why you should buy this book: It’s an excellent example of a very popular genre.

Why you shouldn’t buy this book: It’s predictable and has missed an important opportunity.

Kindle is at paperback prices


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