Thriller extraordinaire Mark Billingham is back with a brutal murder mystery set around an alcoholics anonymous group.
Five recovering addicts of various kinds meet every Monday in the London house of their therapist Tony. Or at least they do until one of them is stabbed to death shortly after telling the group her most shameful secret.
Of course, we eventually find out how these two events are related (very neatly, as it turns out). But only after any number of red herrings—and plenty of confirmation that Mark Billingham is now one of the most assured thriller writers around.
The addicts range from an abandoned, alcoholic wife to a sixtysomething doctor who had damagingly easy access to hospital drugs. Each of them is equally richly drawn, allowing us to see how their lives got so rackety—and how desperately they’re fighting to stay clean.
Billingham is probably still most famous for his Inspector Thorne series. Die of Shame proves that his stand-alone novels can pull off the same trick of utterly respecting crime-fiction conventions, while also taking a thoughtful look at today’s Britain.