Book review: Cry Baby by Mark Billingham

Thursday, August 13, 2020 Permalink

I’m a fan of Mark Billingham and Detective Tom Thorne. I read the sixteenth in the series (Their Little Secret) last year and assumed this would pick up where it left off. In fact, I didn’t read the backcover blurb at all before I started the book and found it a little strange that the series was set in the past and I didn’t remember that being the case.

I knew I disliked his partner or girlfriend and was relieved she seemed to be moving on; and here Tom’s separated from his wife. So it made sense but it didn’t. And, as it happens, there’s nothing in the book until the very end that references that this is a flashback of sorts*. It meant that I read the book amidst some puzzlement worrying that my memory was even worse than it is and that I’d just not remembered the books were set in the 1990s.

Book review: Cry Baby by Mark BillinghamCry Baby
by Mark Billingham
Series: Tom Thorne
Published by Atlantic Monthly Press, Little Brown Book Group
on 14/07/2020
Source: Hachette Australia, NetGalley
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 9781408712429
Pages: 433

In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out.

DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered.

As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage.

Of course as a police procedural this is a great read and I enjoyed Thorne’s antagonistic relationship with his boss though once I realised we’d leapt back in time I struggled to remember if any of these players were part of the current series. I almost feel as if I need to do some re-reading to make sure there’s nothing I’ve missed in the then and now! Of course none of that is Billingham’s fault, just mine for having a bad memory and reading too much bloody crime fiction!

This is obviously a whodunnit. So, there’s a focus on the police investigation itself, but it actually offers something a bit more. In crime fiction we often spend time with the perpetrator but here it’s less about the person responsible for 7yr old Keiron’s disappearance and their motivations, and more about the lives of those left behind. It’s about the secrets they’ve kept, the roles those secrets have played in current events and their responses. Billingham has been quite clever here placing us not only with Tom but also with the mothers of the two boys playing when one went missing. It means the narrative goes deeper than that of the mystery of a missing child, but touches on friendships, how we perceive others and the assumptions we make.

Cry Baby by Mark Billingham was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

* Well, that, the backcover blurb and all of the publicity material! 🙄

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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