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Death Message by Mark Billingham
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Death Message (2007)

by Mark Billingham

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I really love the character of Tom Thorne, the tough DI who insists on doing things his own way, and often pays a hefty price. But of course he never learns. This book will reward long-time fans by bringing back a couple of villains from earlier stories. And I’m glad we finally learned what really happened to Tom’s father. I only wish the author had shown a scene between Hendricks and Thorne at the end. The close friendship enjoyed by the two is one of the central threads of the series, and I ended the book worrying that it would remain fractured. ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
The book starts when DCI Tom Thorne receives a photograph of a dead body on his mobile phone. He doesn’t know who the body or who has sent the picture and the events that unfold as a result are a complex web of interconnected stories.

I’ve enjoyed several of the Tom Thorne series but this one was less engaging on a number of levels. For a start I found it difficult to generate much concern for the criminals and crooked cops that made up the victim list. But mainly it was Thorne himself who was particularly annoying in this outing. For virtually the entire book he repeatedly did stupid things, which he admitted were stupid before he did them, and then whined about the consequences of the stupid things he’d done. I grew tired of this adolescent behaviour long before I slogged my way to page XXX (which took me a good several weeks mind you as I continuously put the book down in preference for more appealing offerings).

In previous books other characters, such as his colleague Dave Holland and friend Phil Hendricks, have been nicely developed and able to offer different perspectives. Here the other characters were much more two-dimensional and took a back seat to the whiney Thorne.

The writing seemed clumsier this time too. There are dull passages about Thorne’s online poker playing, the intricacies of SMS re-routing and all manner of similar subjects that added little to the story. Normally such interludes would add character depth but here all they added was length. I began to wonder if Billingham was as easily distracted from his main storyline as I was. The last third of the book was actually pretty decent, though only if you are familiar with the earlier novels in the series, and it still left a lot of ho hum reading.

It's actually a 2.5 star rating on my personal scale ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
I liked this book. Despite it is #7 in the series, I did not have any difficulty following the story line. Every now and then there were hints to the past, but never so cryptic or of so much importance, that I lost track of the story.
About the book itself. I liked it. Sometimes the choice of word was difficult, I'm not very good at slang, let alone in a different language. The fact that I've watched my share of British crime did help here:-). I liked the way the story was told, the bad guy even got my sympathy, that's usually not the case at all. And I loved the ending, that left me with a BIG question mark.
Maybe that'll be solved in the next book? ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Tom Thorne is receiving photos of murder victims on his cell phone. The perpetrator is identified early, but finding him and his motive is the subject of this wonderful mystery by Mark Billingham. The right mix of suspense, humour and characterization. ( )
  CarterPJ | Jan 14, 2013 |
You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2012/05/death-message-tom-thorne-7-by-mark-billingh...

Death Message is the 7th novel in the Tom Thorne series and joins Tom as he’s thrust into a series of revenge killings with mob ties. The problem is, Tom is receiving pictures of the victims on his phone and at first has no idea why this killer feels the need to get so personal. As he and his colleagues get deeper into the case, and the body count rises, Tom begins to realize that someone else might be involved, someone he put away a while back. This psychopath may be pulling the killer’s strings, and be the puppet master in something farther reaching then Tom and his team could have imagined.

Tom Thorne is one of my favorite British detectives, and I always enjoy these books. Death Message was no exception, and the fascinating look at the British gang underworld had me turning the pages. It does take a while to build, but once I was invested, the ride was totally worth it. Aside from the myriad ins and outs of this frustrating case, Tom is also juggling his relationship with fellow cop, Louise Porter, and his friendship with pathologist, Phil Hendricks. Things with Louise might be getting a bit stale, and it doesn’t help that she seems to be confiding in Hendricks more than Tom. I adore Tom, but as usual, he ends up doing things according to his instincts sometimes, instead of procedure. More often than not, this yields results, but usually ends up in some sort of disciplinary action, or unintended consequences. Tom is a complex character but tends to keep things very internalized, much to the consternation of his friends and lovers. He always gets the job done, though, and cannot let evil go unpunished. Quite a few of Mark Billingham’s villians have been absolutely deplorable, but you’ll find yourself sympathizing with this one, and his motives for revenge are heartbreaking. Twists and turns abound, and this one wraps up rather surprisingly! If you like your procedurals full of rich characterizations and fascinating cases, this series is for you, and be sure to keep an eye out for my review of Bloodline, the next book featuring Tom Thorne! ( )
  MyBookishWays | May 2, 2012 |
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Epigraph
Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it. Francis Bacon
Dedication
For Claire, as they all are.
First words
He could tell they were coppers the second he clapped eyes on them, but it was something in how they stood, in the formal awkwardness an the way their features set themselves into an overtight expression of concern, that drilled a hole right through to his guts; that sucked the breath from him as he dropped into the chair the female officer had advised him to take.
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Book description
Thorne looked at the picture, feeling the pulse quicken at the side of his neck. There were times when he couldn't see what was staring him in the face, but this, for better or worse, was his area of expertise. Thorne knew a dead man when he saw him.

Delivering the "death message." That's what cops call those harrowing moments when they must tell someone that a loved one has been killed. Now Detective Investigator Tom Thorne is receiving messages of his own: photographs of murder victims sent to his cell phone.

Who are the victims? Who is sending the photographs? And why is he sending them to Tom Thorne? The answer lies in the detective investigator's past, with a man he had once sent to prison for life. But even behind bars, the most dangerous psychopath Thorne has ever faced is still a master at manipulating others to do his dirty work for him. And Thorne must act fast because the photos keep on coming, and the killer's next target is someone the detective investigator knows very well. . . .
Haiku summary
thorne knows next victim
plays ends against the middle
all's fair love and war
(hardboiled)

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DI Tom Thorne has seen many dead bodies in his time. But when he starts receiving sick photos of murder victims on his mobile phone, he soon realises that the next body could be his. Even when the sender of the photos is traced, for some the case is closed, but Thorne's nightmare is just beginning. Even behind bars, the most vicious psychopath Thorne has ever faced is able to manipulate others to do his dirty work for him. This psycho bears a grudge against Thorne, and time has only deepened his need to make Thorne's life a living hell.… (more)

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