From the Dead
Mark Billingham
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From the Dead
Mark Billingham
Grove Press
416 pages
January 2015
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on From the Dead.

The charred remains of one Alan Langford were found over a decade ago—trapped in his burnt-out car. Alan was not a nice man, something particularly evident to his wife, Donna.

Donna wound up convicted in her husband's death and sentenced to ten years in prison. It seems she hired someone to place her husband in his car and set it on fire. But what if it wasn't her husband in that vehicle? Out of prison and trying to get on with her life, Donna receives a letter in the mail that includes a current photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her late husband.

Readers know early on in From the Dead that Alan Langford was indeed not the person who died in that vehicle. The question then becomes who the unfortunate victim was, and why the investigators working the case at the time didn’t catch it.

This conspiracy puzzler of a case falls directly into the lap of Mark Billingham's irascible Detective Tom Thorne. Billingham has enjoyed great success with the Thorne series as he has proven to be a memorable character surrounded by a fine cast of supporting players. Some may recall the two cable-TV Thorne movies made of earlier novels in the series --- Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat—that starred David Morrissey (now infamous for playing The Governor on AMC's The Walking Dead).

The ninth DI Tom Thorne novel presents a unique problem for Thorne. He is not only seeking to bring justice and retribution for the long-suffering Donna Langford. He must also go head-to-head with his police colleagues: there had to have been some collusion in hiding the fact that the nefarious Alan Langford was not the body found in his burnt-out vehicle.

Thorne goes into semi-deep cover to wade through various circles of seedy characters in an attempt to not only locate the still living Alan Langford but also uncover the identity of the unfortunate gentleman who took his place so long ago. From the Dead is taut, well-written and unsettling and Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne as memorable as ever in the one case that may finally take him down.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Ray Palen, 2014

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