I have been an ardent fan of Mark Billingham from book one in his Detective Tom Thorne series. The Demands is the tenth offering in this British crime series.
Detective Sergeant Helen Weeks stops regularly into Javed Akhtar's corner shop for her morning paper and gum. Akhtar has just chased some young hooligans out of his store when he abruptly turns, locks the door on Helen and a male customer....and pulls a gun. Helen and Stephen are now his hostages.
His demands? For Detective Tom Thorne to investigate his son Amin's death while in custody. It was ruled suicide but Akhtar doesn't believe it.
Thorne is in a race against time - and an unstable man - to re investigate a closed case.
Why do I enjoy this series so much? Billingham always comes up with an arresting plot that provides some unexpected turns. The tension ratchets higher as Thorne discovers truths that Akhtar may not want to hear. We are privy to the drama in the shop through Helen's eyes. Helen has appeared in a previous book and is another strongly drawn character I was glad to see return. Billingham's plot also includes some relevant social commentary.
But of course the real draw is Tom Thorne. Thorne is ornery, obstinate and driven to solve his cases at almost any cost. This lands him on a fine line between right and wrong many times. His single mindedness has cost him in many ways, both professionally and personally. But his persistence usually pays off.
I loved the ending and cannot wait for the next installment in this gritty, gripping series.
Who else is reading and recommending Mark Billingham? Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Gillian Flynn. And me! Read an excerpt of The Demands.
(I recently discovered that Britain has created a television series based on this character. At first I was quite hesitant to watch as I thought the mental personas I had created for these characters would be ruined. But I have to say - they're quite good. My local library has purchased the first two - Sleepyhead and Scaredycat. David Morrisey does an excellent job of portraying Thorne. Although I think the coroner Phil Hendriks is a bit off. Funnily enough Canadian Sandra Oh is also in Scaredycat, complete with a Brit accent.
You can find Mark Billingham on Facebook.