Thursday, August 21, 2008

In the Dark-Mark Billingham

In the Dark
Mark Billingham
Harper, Sep 30 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9780061432736

In London, Ezra “Easy” Dennison informs Theo Shirley his illegal drug sales revenues have reached the level where the gang is ready to promote him. Theo is elated as he has two dependents to take care of. However, he has one more step left to prove he is ready for increased responsibility. Theo is in a car in which the headlights are off; he is to shoot in the backseat of a selected vehicle. A BMW flashes the lights at the darkened auto and Theo thanks the driver by firing as directed into the car.

The driver Sarah Ruston loses control and veers into a bus stop where Detective Superintendent Paul Hopwood and his eight plus months pregnant girlfriend Helen Weeks are waiting. One of the two at the bus stop dies. The police investigation soon takes a wicked turn beyond gang initiation rituals into an internal affairs investigation as someone believes the freak ricochet accident was not a random incident; that individual is easily killing the gang and others involved in the deadly incident.

IN THE DARK lives up to its title as it paints a bleak grim London landscape in which life is worthless regardless of which side of the crime line a person belongs too. The story line is action-packed as the police assume initially a sad weird but deadly accident killed one of them until the gang murders begin. As such the plot switches from the deep gritty look at the social and economic behavior of gangs to a more suspenseful but less insightful homicide investigation. This is a strong crime caper even with Mark Billingham’s prime protagonist Detective Inspector Tom Thorne playing a limited cameo role.

Harriet Klausner