cover image The Last Dance

The Last Dance

Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8021-6194-9

Billingham (Sleepyhead) launches a cracking new mystery series featuring the charming, sarcastic British Det. Sgt. Declan Miller. Miller’s wife, Alex—also a detective—was recently murdered on the job. Afternoons spent in the company of his pet rats and punctuated by visits from Alex’s ghost are not enough to keep Declan away from work for long, though, and he returns, grieving, after a six-week hiatus. The first case assigned to Miller and his new partner, Sara Xiu, is a double murder. It initially appears that the two victims—an organized crime heir and an IT consultant—have nothing in common, but after Declan taps into a network of sources spanning his and Alex’s ballroom dancing friends, an old informant, and Alex’s ghost, he starts to fear a complex conspiracy is at hand. Meanwhile, Declan’s friend, prison snitch Gary “Chesshead” Cole, tries to find Alex’s murderer, with tragic results. Billingham imbues Miller with a brilliant sense of humor and populates the margins of this well-paced mystery with lovable, fully fleshed characters whom readers will adore. This is the author at his best. Agent: David Forrer, InkWell Management. (July)