cover image The Wrong Hands

The Wrong Hands

Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8021-6309-7

At the start of Billingham’s electrifying sequel to The Last Dance, Det. Sgt. Declan Miller is still grieving the unsolved murder of his wife, Alex, and adjusting to his unconventional new investigative partner, Sara Xiu, who has a taste for heavy metal music and one-night stands. Alex’s drug addict daughter, Finn, calls Declan one morning to tell him she’s sent a friend, Andy Bagnall, to his doorstep. Hapless Andy has been given a stolen briefcase that contains a pair of severed hands adorned with expensive signet rings, and he’s terrified that holding onto it for too long could put a target on his back. Declan recognizes the grisly contents as the work of gangster Wayne Cutler, whom he suspects of murdering Alex. After he takes possession of the suitcase, somebody murders Andy while searching his apartment for it, lighting a fire under Declan and Sara to track down Cutler. Declan remains a dashing, sharp-witted protagonist, and fans of the previous book will be pleased that Billingham saves room for his dancing exploits at the Majestic Ballroom. Throw in a delightfully madcap plot and breakneck pacing, and readers are left with a caper they won’t soon forget. Agent: David Forrer, InkWell Management. (July)