cover image The Bones Beneath

The Bones Beneath

Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly, $24 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2248-3

In Billingham’s chilling 12th novel featuring Det. Insp. Tom Thorne (after 2013’s The Dying Hours), serial killer Stuart Nicklin offers to lead the police to the remains of one of his first victims—a 15-year-old boy who vanished 25 years ago while both Nicklin and the teen resided in a therapeutic community for youthful offenders on remote Bardsey Island, off the Welsh coast. But the offer comes with several conditions; in particular, Nicklin wants his nemesis, Thorne, who captured him five years earlier, to head the expedition and another convicted murderer, Jeffrey Batchelor, to accompany them, on the pretext of protecting Nicklin from retaliation for the female officer killed during his arrest. Astonishingly, the authorities agree, setting in motion a meticulously plotted chain of events far more disastrous than the detective fears. Though newcomers may find both Thorne’s opaqueness and the occasional misdirection a tad off-putting, Billingham certainly knows how to make those pages turn even while your stomach churns. Agent: Sarah Lutyens, Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency (U.K.). (June)