Love LIke Blood

WHO WANTS TOM THORNE? . . . Prize Draw

TOM THORNE, ANYONE …? Our February giveaway is a crisp new paperback edition of Mark Billingham’s hard-hitting Love Like Blood. Now, read carefully, because this is is a pretty difficult competition. Here’s what you must do. I’ve broken it down into easy steps. Ready?

  1. email Fully Booked at
  2. Put the words ‘Tom Thorne’ in the subject box


1. Go to our Facebook page
2. Click ‘like’ on the feature for the competition.

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Phew! Seriously though, it’s that easy. The competition closes at 2200 hrs on Sunday 4th March. One entry per person, naturally, and I will draw the winner’s name out of the digital hat and let them know the good news!


ON MY SHELF . . . February 2018


I am writing this on a cold Friday evening in Fenland where hopes of a Spring just around the corner have been dashed by weather warnings of severe cold over the next few days. Despite this, publishers are coming out of their winter quarters to prepare for the Spring Offensive, and thus we have four tasty novels on offer here.


BillinghamThis is the paperback edition of the Tom Thorn novel which came out in June 2017 and was reviewed on Fully Booked here. Suffice to say that it tackles head on one of the most iniquitous so-called cultural practices prevalent in the diverse Britain of the Twenty First Century. It is hard to avoid using the grossly inappropriate term ‘honour killing’ but until someone comes up with something more fitting, it will have to do. Love Like Blood will be out on 8th March as a Sphere paperback, and will set you back £5.99. HOWEVER, we will be running a prize draw to win a copy, so watch out for alerts on Twitter and Facebook.


David LawsIn this imaginative retelling of the now infamous events in the Bavarian capital in 1938, David Laws gives us a young present-day researcher trying to find out the truth about her grandfather’s part in a series of meetings which shaped history. What evidence did he have that Neville Chamberlain was being duped by Hitler? Why did he almost certainly give his life to prevent the deal going through? Emma Drake finds the answer not in dusty telegrams or carbon copied communiques, but in a present day forest just fifty miles from the site of the lasting testament to Nazi infamy – Oświęcim. Munich is published by Matador, is out now, and will cost you £8.99.


DonnaLeonFrom the grim and silent testimony of a Polish forest to the bustling and utterly cosmopolitan world of Venice, courtesy of Donna Leon and her immensely popular Italian copper, Commissario Guido Brunetti. It seems barely credible that this is number twenty seven – no, that’s no misprint, 27 – in the series. While trying to discover the source of an information leak from within his own department, and investigating the savage attack on a family friend, Brunetti seeks solace – and a possible solution – from the pages of Sophocles’ Antigone. The Temptation of Forgiveness will be out on 5 April from William Heinemann/Cornerstone in Kindle and hardback. The paperback edition will be out in the autumn of 2018.


Derek B MillerMiller created quite a stir with his debut novel, Norwegian By Night, and now he aims to repeat the  achievement with the story of Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård who has to leave her native Norway and travel to America to find the truth behind her brother’s disappearance. In addition to apparently disappearing off the face of the earth, he is implicated in the death of a prominent African-American academic. And this is 2008, election year, nerves are in shreds, and across the political world innocent mistakes are treated as mortal insults. In addition to plying her police officer skills, Sigrid Ødegård needs to learn a whole new set of behavioural responses if she is to get the the bottom of her brother’s disappearance. American By Day is published by Transworld/Doubleday and will be available on 19 April.




LOVE LIKE BLOOD … Between the covers

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For those customers who boarded the Tom Thorne Express (driven by Mark Billingham) at the last station, here is the story so far. Tom Thorne is a middle-aged policeman currently – and probably permanently – of Detective Inspector rank. His home turf is predominantly North London, but he has survived being busted down to uniform, and banished to that godless region south of the Thames. He is a maverick’s maverick. Grumpy, impulsive, reckless, no respecter of seniority, but grudgingly admired by fellow officers who know a good copper when they see one. He lives with a child protection officer and her young son. His long time best mate is pathologist Phil Hendricks who is totally conventional apart from his addiction to body piercings, tattoos, and the Gay lifestyle. Of Thorne’s many vices, the one which exasperates his friends more than anything is his passion for country music, where his drug of choice is Hank Williams. Thorne tries not to give the many ghosts in his past free reign, but the spectre that haunts him the most is that of his late father, who suffered a long and ultimately fatal slide down into the hell of dementia.

LLB coverNow, Thorne becomes involved in another kind of hell on earth, and one where all absent devils have been called home, all leave cancelled, and any recently retired fallen angels pressed back into duty. The fires stoked in this particular hellish pit illuminate the ghastly world inhabited by some British Asian communities who sanction murder in the name of their warped concept of family honour. Among the ghosts which inhabit the darker parts of Thorne’s memory is that of Meena Athwal. She was killed, he is certain, at the behest of her family, but her death remains unavenged in a court of justice.

Thorne is approached by a fellow officer, Nicola Tanner. Her partner, schoolteacher Susan Best, has been murdered in their shared home, and Tanner is convinced that it is a case of mistaken identity. She believes that the killers are a pair of professional murderers she is tracking for their role in so-called ‘Honour Killings’. Tanner wants Thorne’s help because she thinks his sheer bloody-mindedness and contempt for procedure will cut through the layers of police timidity caused by misplaced sensitivity to multicultural issues.

Thorne, reluctantly, agrees to help, but then two youngsters – Amaya and boyfriend Kamal – are abducted. They were planning to run away together to escape the stifling expectations of their families, but the CCTV shows them being abused by a drunken Irish lout on a train, but then rescued by a smartly dressed Asian man. When Amaya’s body turns up in a shallow grave, apparently raped and strangled, Thorne abandons any reluctance he may have felt, and begins to put pressure on those he feels may be responsible.

Billingham dedicates the book to two real-life victims of religious murder, Banaz Mahmod and Rahmat Sulemani. He barely keeps his anger in check, but is too good a writer to allow the novel to be just a diatribe against disgusting and inhuman beliefs. Still, his controlled fury burns white hot on every page. Here, he discusses motives for the killings with his boss:

“It’s hard to accept these are motives.”
“Because they’re not, “ Thorne said. “Not to you or me or to anyone else with an ounce of sodding humanity. The people we’re dealing with have different … standards. A different code. If you can kill your own flesh and blood because something they’ve done means you don’t think you can hold your head up in a temple or in some poxy neighbourhood café….”

We watch with anguish as another possible victim becomes a target for the deadly pair who Tanner has correctly identified. A teenage girl keeps a diary and, having realised that her brother Jad has taken to reading it, writes this entry:

“What makes me angriest is that Jad doesn’t believe a lot of this stuff any more than I do. It’s perfect for him, because of what he’s got between his legs. He gets to do what he likes while I’m bringing dishonour into the house because I’m not ashamed to use what’s BETWEEN MY EARS!”

The plot twists are little short of masterly. Billingham encourages us to make a series of assumptions, but then delights in confounding us as he reveals that the reality is something different altogether. Love Like Blood is the sixteenth Tom Thorne novel and I am certain that the series, which started in 2001 with Sleepyhead, will come to be seen as a classic of its kind. I have read every one of them, but can say with complete conviction that Love Like Blood is the most powerful and impressive yet.

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