cover image Rush of Blood

Rush of Blood

Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2591-0

Three British couples meet by chance during a vacation in Sarasota, Fla., in this intricate psychological thriller from Billingham (Die of Shame). They share fruity drinks and promise to keep in touch after their holiday, the kind of promises reminiscent of summer camp that never really pan out. Their vacation takes a dark turn when a mentally challenged 14-year-old, Amber-Marie Wilson, wanders away from the resort and vanishes. Back in England, somewhat awkward dinner parties ensue, with each couple hosting the others and the topic inevitably returning to Florida. When another girl with similar attributes goes missing in Kent, police on both sides of the Atlantic take notice and start paying much closer attention to this seemingly harmless group of people, one or more of whom is harboring something unpleasant. Billingham does a clever job shifting the setting from his usual turf, even if the tension isn’t always ratcheted as high as it could be, and his characters aren’t fully realized as usual. Agent: David Forrer, Inkwell Management. (Feb.)