Time of Death

Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (448p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2363-3

At the outset of Billingham’s slow-burning 13th Tom Thorne novel (after 2014’s The Bones Beneath), the detective inspector’s girlfriend, Det. Sgt. Helen Weeks, persuades him to abandon their original holiday plans and head instead to Polesford, the small Warwickshire village where she grew up, after she recognizes a childhood friend, Linda Bates, on the news as the wife of a man accused of abducting two teenage girls. Even though she hasn’t seen Linda for decades, Helen feels a strange pull to help her old friend, and Thorne always relishes a new case. It’s been three weeks since Jessica Toms disappeared and two days since Poppy Johnston vanished—both appear to have accepted rides from Linda’s husband. Despite the husband’s claims of innocence, evidence mounts against him, including traces of DNA that place Jessica in his car. Thorne takes a backseat role as he assists Helen in what becomes a deeply personal investigation that builds to a surprising and satisfying climax. Agent: Sarah Lutyens, Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency (U.K.). (June)