Teenager Luke Mullen is missing. He was last seen by schoolmates getting into a car with an older woman, and it is unclear whether he has disappeared voluntarily or been abducted.
Police looking for the boy are pretty certain they are dealing with a missing-persons case. The son of a former police officer, Luke has no history of being out of touch, no track record of truancy or misbehavior. And they know that the longer he is missing, the more likely he is to turn up dead.
Then the videotape arrives. . . .
On special assignment, Detective Inspector Tom Thorne searches desperately for the boy and for anyone who might have a grudge against him or his father, former detective Tony Mullen. As someone responsible for convicting many tough villains in his time, Luke's father is asked to list a few potential suspects. But it is the names Mullen carefully omits from the list that intrigue Thorne. Has Mullen simply forgotten about the criminal who threatened him? Is he so distraught in the emotional trauma of his son's disappearance? Or is he hiding something?
When the kidnapper demonstrates, shockingly, that he is not reluctant to kill, Thorne knows he does not have the luxury of time. He must dig hard and deep into old cases and past lives. He learns that secrets are as easily hidden as bodies, and that even if Luke Mullen is still alive, making assumptions is the quickest way to get him dead and buried.
British author Billingham's taut sixth procedural to feature London policeman Tom Thorne (after Lifeless) establishes him as one of the best new hard-boiled voices. Assigned to investigate the kidnapping of 16-year-old Luke Mullen, DI Tom Thorne knows it won't be a straightforward case when he discovers the boy's father is ex-Det. Chief Supt. Tony Mullen. As Thorne and his new partner, DI Louise Porter, dig deeper into the kidnapping, they discover unsettling connections to an unsolved hate crime and to Grant Freestone, a wanted man with a grudge against the senior Mullen. An unexpected twist in the case turns kidnapping into murder, and Thorne and Porter are thrust into a dangerous game of cat and mouse against a criminal with disturbing ties to the police force itself. With its effortless point-of-view shifts that illuminate the unfolding stories from myriad angles, this superb suspense thriller cements Billingham's place along with such American heavyweights as Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane. (Aug.)
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August 14, 2007
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