Love Like Blood
by Mark Billingham
Mark Billingham’s 14 novels starring Tom Thorne are one of the most reliably excellent British series, but it is a wonder that the detective inspector is alive to investigate anything at all. In addition to heavy drinking, broken relationships, demotions and more near-death experiences than a snake-wielding evangelist, he has also endured that most perilous of modern trials: the television adaptation. Love Like Blood tackles a serious topic: honour killings. Inspired by the real-life murder of Banaz Mahmod in 2006, Billingham twists the serial-killer genre to sociopolitical ends. Thorne’s new co-star, DI Nicola Tanner, is mourning her partner, Susan. Her grief intensifies when she believes Susan’s murder was a case of mistaken identity, with Tanner the intended victim. Suspecting the killers are also responsible for several honour killings around London, she asks Thorne to investigate. The plot is well-handled (a family’s fear of reprisals creates an intense claustrophobia), even if Billingham’s evident sensitivity for the subject inspires some overly earnest longueurs.