cover image The Killing Habit

The Killing Habit

Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly, $26 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2824-9

A spate of cat deaths propels Billingham’s intriguing 15th novel featuring London Det. Insp. Tom Thorne (after 2017’s Love like Blood). Assigned to the case, Thorne hates the ridicule that comes with it, until he discovers that the cats are connected to a group of unsolved murders. Since the investigation requires database searches and organizing information, tasks that aren’t this rule-breaker’s strength, he seeks the help of meticulous Det. Insp. Nicola Tanner, who had a major role in the previous book. Meanwhile, Tanner has her own case to solve: junkie Andan Jandali’s murder. Thorne and Tanner team up and work both cases. Tanner’s leads to a drug ring and a mysterious woman called the Duchess; Thorne’s to a dating website where a serial killer hunts his victims. The stakes rise when a sting operation goes bad and puts Tanner in harm’s way. Readers have a dizzying array of characters to keep track of, but the action moves swiftly toward a big twist and the satisfying conclusion. This entry shows why Billingham stands at the forefront of British crime authors. Agent: David Forrer, Inkwell Management. (June)