cover image From the Dead

From the Dead

Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2213-1

At the outset of Billingham’s engrossing ninth novel featuring Det. Insp. Tom Thorne (after 2011’s Bloodline), an unnamed man stages his own death, allowing him to escape from England; his former wife is convicted of conspiring to murder him. Ten years later, that wife, Donna Langford, is out of prison, insisting on her innocence, a claim bolstered by her having recently received a photo showing her husband, Alan Langford, in a place that looks like Spain, apparently “back from the dead.” Donna engages Anna Carpenter, an inexperienced and ill-equipped PI, who turns for help to Thorne, though the London cop happens to be consumed by the trial of a man accused of murdering an 18-year-old girl whose body was never found. While the incessant banter between Thorne and his colleagues can be distracting and the murder trial gets somewhat lost in the shuffle, a chillingly clever criminal boosts this intelligent procedural. Agent: Anna Steadman, Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency (U.K.). (Jan.)