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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lazy Bones. Mark Billingham. Time Warner Books (2004)

This is a very enjoyable police procedural, the plot is satisfying complex and the construction is well thought out. The investigation is nicely described and the large cast are well developed and respond to each other and the changing circumstances in an engaging manner. The catalyst for the action in the book is the discovery of a murdered man in a seedy hotel room. He has been bound and hooded, he was strangled and raped. He also was a recently released convicted rapist himself and his murder raises a question that it gently pushed throughout the length of the book, are all murders equal? Would the investigation of the murder of someone who was a wicked man be pursued with the same force and vigor as the murder of an innocent man? The question does not dominate the book, it does surface in interesting ways and casts a nice shadow on the actions of the cast.
The action in the book is skillfully set up, there are a number of intersecting threads in the story, the investigation itself with the lead character, Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, the subsequent murders, the terrible aftermath of a rape that will have deadly consequences in later years and Tom Thorne's developing relationship with another cast member. All of these threads are cunningly woven together and provide an unexpected and merciless climax. This book explores how terrible actions spawn ever more terrible consequences. Tom Thorne is largely in the usual mould of leading police detectives, he is rather morose, has a splintered relationship in the past leaving him now single and his work colleagues are closer to him than anyone else. The supporting cast are given plenty of space to develop and this is one of the major strengths of the book, the investigation has a credible team feel to it. The subject matter in unrelentingly bleak without ever loosing sight of the need to retain rather than repulse the reader. It is very well written, a griping crime novel.

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