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Description - The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham

Jessica Clarke had been set alight twenty years ago. Her attacker, quickly tracked down and eager to confess, was still in jail, his career as a hitman for North London gangs now well behind him. So who is harassing Carol Chamberlain, the arresting officer in that case, and claiming that he is the one who burned the girl? Now retired, Carol turns to DI Tom Thorne for help. He's up to his neck in an investigation into a series of killings, which appears to be the result of a turf war between rival gangs, and he's fed up to the gills with reporting to DCI Tughan, so helping Carol out looks like a good deed in a naughty world. Only the world is about to turn much nastier, so nasty in fact that he finds himself longing for a straightforward psycopath to hunt down. In Mark Billingham's fourth novel, he explores the effects of violence and greed on the lives of those who exploit their fellow beings in a novel of exceptional power. Visit the author's website at www

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780316725743
ISBN-10: 0316725749
Format: Hardback
(241mm x 162mm x 30mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Little, Brown & Company
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: 15-Jul-2004
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham

UK Kirkus Review » Billingham's vision is contemporary and bleak in this hard-headed tale of London's gangland. DI Tom Thorne picks his way through the carnage of turf warfare and harsh vendettas. His investigation of a contract killing soon intersects with an older case which has been re-opened. Twenty years ago, a teenage girl was set alight, a horrific fire which still burns in the conscience of ex-DCI Carol Chamberlain. When the man she put away for the crime claims his innocence, past and present fuse. Prickly by name and by nature, Thorne pursues organised crime bosses relentlessly and with little regard for protocol. His sympathy for the victims of crime resonates and the gangsters emerge as sordid egomaniacs. At odds with his superiors, Thorne metes out justice and struggles to redress the amorality which threatens to engulf him. Bantering dialogue adds humour to this otherwise dark, violent novel. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Gangland killings, bureaucratic backstabbing, Detective Inspector Tom Thorne in a downbeat mood-what else is new? Leading, as ever, one of those lives of quiet desperation, Thorne finds his fourth outing (Lazybones, 2004, etc.) launched with a phone call from someone as melancholic as he is. Ex-DCI Carol Chamberlain is having to contend with slimy Gordon Rooker, or, rather, with someone pretending to be Gordon Rooker, since, in fact, the real Gordon Rooker is doing 20 years in Park Royal Prison for setting fire to schoolgirl Jessica Clarke. The crime, heinous and harrowing enough, gains extra ugliness when it turns out that Jessica was the wrong schoolgirl. Contract killer Rooker mistook Jessica for Alison Kelly, standing next to her, and thereby hangs a tale of economic rivalry, the Kellys being at the time preeminent among North London racket folk. In other words, a message was being sent about turf warfare in the making. But, in all this, what accounts for the transformation of unflappable Claire into someone old and scared? To begin with, she'd never quite been able to get past the sheer grisliness of the Jessica Clarke case-she'd been a lead investigator in it-and now it's alive again, the centerpiece of her nightmares. Even more pressingly, she's being stalked: late-night phone calls plus a shivery letter from the pretend Gordon Rooker. Claire needs help, she acknowledges to Thorne. Meanwhile, back at the Met, a task force is being formed to cope with the sudden ratcheting up of gangland hostilities-a development that forces Thorne to confront an old enemy: DCI Nick Tugham, ambitious, sycophantic and, worst of all, his senior. Street mayhem on the one hand, office politics on the other, plus a dismal ongoing family drama: Will Thorne doloroso ever catch a break? Thriller in a minor key. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham is a stand-up comedian, appearing regularly at the Comedy Store. He has been awarded the 2003 Sherlock Award as the creator of the Best Detective created by a British writer. He has also written drama for children's television, including Knight School which won the Royal Television Society Award for best children's drama.

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