First Monday/Tuesday Crime is now just around the corner. Have you reserved your seat yet? If not click here.
To give you some idea of what to expect I’ve just read Mark Billingham’s Their Little Secret and it’s published today. So happy publication day, Mark! And thank you to Little, Brown for letting me read an advance copy through NetGalley. But before I share my thoughts, here’s the blurb.
She says she’s an ordinary mother.
He knows a liar when he sees one.
Sarah thinks of herself as a normal single mum. It’s what she wants others to think of her. But the truth is, she needs something new, something thrilling.
Meanwhile, DI Tom Thorne is investigating a woman’s suicide, convinced she was driven to do it by a man who preys on vulnerable women.
A man who is about to change Sarah’s life.
Now, I have a slight confession. Mark Billingham has written a ridiculous amount of books but this is only the third one I’ve read. I’ve previously read Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne) and Die of Shame (Nicola Tanner). The two characters come together in Their Little Secret and I love the way they work and wind each other up. Nicola has a very sensible down to earth approach whereas Tom’s life just resembles the Country and Western songs he loves so much – only happy when he’s miserable.
Thankfully both he and Nicola (who’s still grieving for her dead partner) have a case that stretches and tests them. Tom Thorne is called to a suicide at a Tube station. It’s meant to be an open and shut case but there’s something that bothers him. Something off kilter that niggles. As Tom and Nicola start to investigate, they discover that their perpetrator isn’t going to be easy to spot. How do you find someone who manages to transform like a shape-shifter and then hides in plain sight?
Mark Billingham has a writing style that’s easy to read, even with changes of viewpoints. I particularly liked it when we heard from Sarah, the single mum. Now (trying not to give any spoilers) if I’d come across Sarah at the school gate, I think I’d have rumbled her. I’ve been doing the school run for 14 years (!) but all schools work differently. At our school, the parents wait with their children by the classrooms but at others the pupils go in straight from the gate. I liked the slow reveal about Sarah and certainly at the beginning I was convinced by her.
I also like the little ironic touches Mark Billingham puts in, such as the congregation singing Amazing Grace at a Humanist funeral and the special reference to The Blacksmith and Toffee Maker pub, just across the road from City University. I’d like to think that Mark included it especially for First Monday Crime. The irony, of course, is that it’s currently shut and so we won’t be going there next Tuesday!
Although most of the story is tied up, there is one loose thread at the end. In one way, it’s really annoying but in another, it mimics real life cases where criminals keep their mouths shut, refusing to reveal their final little secret. There’s a particular real life case that Mark Billingham refers to (I won’t say as it’s a spoiler) and in the final chapters, the pain of the fictional victim’s family member is evident. But it made me think of the families of the real life victims and the terrible suffering they have gone through.
I don’t think you need to have read all the DI Tom Thorne books to enjoy this. It works well as a standalone as Mark Billingham adds in background information for his characters. I enjoyed Their Little Secret immensely.
If you’re able to get along on Tuesday 7th May then you’ll be able to buy a book and get it signed by Mark. If you can’t make it then you can buy Their Little Secret here.
And remember to reserve your seat if you want to come and listen to Mark Billingham discuss Their Little Secret with the First Monday (Tuesday) panel! Click here.
About the Author
Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers. A former actor, television writer and stand-up comedian, his series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award as well as the Sherlock Award for Best British Detective and been nominated for seven CWA Daggers. His standalone thriller IN THE DARK was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, SLEEPYHEAD was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. Each of his novels has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.
A television series based on the Thorne novels was screened in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne and a BBC series based on the standalone thrillers IN THE DARK and TIME OF DEATH was shown in 2017.
Mark is also a member of Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. Performing alongside Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville, Doug Johnstone and Luca Veste, this band of frustrated rockers murders songs for fun at literary festivals worldwide.