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Publisher's Summary

Theo Shirley is ready to move up. Now that he's sold enough drugs to support a girlfriend and a baby son, his mate Easy Dennison offers him a boost up the next rung of the ladder. As part of his initiation, Theo's taken out one night in a car without headlights. When the driver of a BMW flashes her lights at his car, he's ordered to shoot into her back seat, and his target, Sarah Ruston, runs her BMW into a bus stop.

The result is disaster for another unlikely family: DS Paul Hopwood and his girlfriend Helen Weeks, who's carrying a baby that may or may not be his. Relations have been cool between Paul and Helen ever since he found out about the fling she had at a particularly inopportune time. Now they're never going to warm up again. It's a sad story of random gang violence, but not, it seems, an uncommon one - except for a series of dark revelations.

First, the accident may have had less to do with drugs than an internal investigation by the police; second, there's a growing suspicion that the freak accident may not have been so accidental after all; third, somebody is evidently closing the case a step ahead of the authorities by killing the friends in Theo's gang, leaving him the odd man out in more ways than one.

In a city where violence can be random or meticulously planned, where teenage gangs clash with career criminals and where loyalty is paid for in blood, anything is possible. Secrets are uncovered as fast as bodies, and the story's final twist is as breathtakingly surprising as they come.

©2008 Mark Billingham (P)2008 WF Howes Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Social study with looney tunes

I had a hard time getting into this story at the beginning, as a large cast of seemingly unrelated people got introduced and the story seemed to be going nowhere slowly. But around the middle it picked up and the web linking all these people started to emerge. I finally quite liked it overall, but there were a lot of loose ends as the tale was more about the environment than than the individuals.

I added whispersync after about 20% of the book to speed me up - big mistake! The narrator makes no effort to make the listener aware of changes in perspective (which are happening quite often) and gives really weird voices (straight out of looney tunes) to some individuals that do not fit the book at all.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Andy Parsons
  • 03-15-09

Gangsters old and new and just a little Thorne

This book sees Mark Billingham on form and to form. The story explores the London underclass of small time gangstas counterbalanced by traditional East End Gangsters you might find in a guy Ritchie film.

The plot drives forward though there are a few time twists and plot tricks to keep you smiling through quite a bleak and violent tale. It?s always interesting when crime writers write a book that is not about their familiar character. It?s even more fun when our old friend gets a bit part as Tom Thorne does in this one I wasn?t quite convinced by the plot?s central premise it really stretches credulity in a way that might be OK in a country house murder but not in something as authentic as this. The atmosphere and some unlikely sympathetic characters carry the book through though and it is a very haunting piece of work.

A special mention has to go Adjoa Andoh for an absolutely superb performance of the text; she got the street chat just right and was also great in central role of the pregnant heroine.

Overall a gripping and memorable book full of Mark Billingham?s characteristic hard edged humanity.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 04-13-13

Different, but just as brilliant...

I've read all of Mark Billingham's Tom Thorn novels and last year's non-Thorn (or "Thorn-lite" novel "Rush of Blood", and thoroughly enjoyed them all.



I wasn't entirely sure what to expect of this. Thorn is such a central part of the novels in which he features that it may have been difficult to fill that void that writing a novel without him would create. I didn't need to worry. Though the style o the novel is slightly rittier (the Thorn novels are dark, but more macabre than this kind of urban grittiness) and the fleeting appearances by Thorn are cleverly placed, giving the impression that he's there behind the scenes working to solve the case.



I'd recommend to any Crime fans,



J

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sheely-Wheely
  • 04-13-13

My first Mark Billingham novel: Highly recommended

I enjoyed Mark Billingham's short story "Stroke of Luck" in the compilation "Like a Charm", so I thought I would try one of his novels.



This was a very enjoyable read with lots of twist and turns. The main character is a pregnant policewoman on maternity leave, but this does not stop her trying to pursue the gang that callously killed her partner. The story ends quite abruptly with one or two loose ends, but I think this worked well as it forced you to make your own conclusions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew
  • 04-07-09

disapointing

Big fan of the Thorne books, so bought this without too much thought. While a couple of clever twists kept the interest levels up, and to be fair, the journey is quite good, it just doesn't go anywhere. I disliked most of the characters of whom i think i was supposed to feel sorry for, and was suprised when it suddenly finished, i was expecting at least 30 mins more.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Paul D
  • 05-23-18

Solid

Enjoyable and well written police drama. Quality stuff compared to lots of this genre.Realistic plot and strong well constructed characters. Fine narration completes the package.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • jane
  • 03-10-18

Great story. Beautifully narrated

Street thugs vs real criminals. Police against each other and a baby on the way. Lots of twists, darkness and intrigue. I loved it.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Stef
  • 12-09-17

Lots of implications

Not enough detail, there is a big lead up to bent copper, then no detail or investigation to conclude the tale, it was the same with many of the other characters including Frank bit disappointed.
Well read

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gerri L
  • 11-11-17

Enjoyable but...

I was enjoying the book when suddenly it ended. I want to know what happened next. Like someone else I checked to see if it was fully downloaded. The narration was spot on.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Paxbungle
  • 12-21-15

Unexpectedly abrupt ending

An enjoyable story with such an unexpectedly abrupt end that I found myself checking that the full book had downloaded.

Left guessing as to what had happened to several characters.

Made a change from Tom Thorne, but not necessarily a change for the better.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 05-13-09

Not just another crime novel.

After just the first listen, this has become one of my favourite audiobooks.

Far more than simply just another crime novel - it is gritty in places, and draws the reader in to an underworld convincingly realised and which pulls few punches. Those who dislike bad language might be advised to avoid, and listeners should put aside any preconceived ideas about morals and motives.

The central characters are all well realised and references to culture are right up to date. You're left to make your own judgements about the players and their actions - which will change thoughout - and while you imagine there's a twist coming at the end as the plot unfolds, it's progressive: the story builds well and the pace is rapid with few pauses, so you find yourself pondering where it's going between listens and you're eager to get back into it.

It doesn't quite have the sense of place and realisation of, for example, PD James' "A Private Patient", but nor it is not simply a whodunnit mystery: the prose is both efficient and effective and the sense of realism is gripping.

Thanks to this the absolutely outstanding narration which brings every character to life in a way in which you're still left thinking about them well after you have finished the book as if the characters are familiar to you, this would make an excellent choice for those wanting to try the format out for the first time.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful