Love Like Blood – Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #14)


Love Like Blood was published by Little, Brown Book Group on 1 June 2017 in the UK and on 20 June 2017 by Atlantic Monthly Press in the US

As DI Nicola Tanner investigates what appears to be a series of organised killings, her partner Susan is brutally murdered, leaving the detective bereft, and vengeful.

Taken off the case, Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts.

As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.

My thoughts

There is no greater detective than Tom Thorne. Fact. He is the kind of man you would want on your side, willing to bend the rules and tackle whatever is thrown at him. Mark Billingham in Love Like Blood takes on the issue of honour killings.

Honour killings are the killings of a close relative due to perceived loss of honour, by their behaviours. It is the notion of bringing shame upon a family.

D. I. Nicola Tanner is on compassionate leave, following the death of her partner. She seeks out Tom Thorne, to ask for his off the books help on honour killings locally. She is also convinced that the murder of her partner was a case of mistaken identity. She thinks that the killers were targetting her. Tanner wants to track down the individual reponsible in the local community for setting up the honour killing contracts, as well as the killers themselves.

This is a sensitive subject, involving the different religious and cultural communities in the area. No one wants to admit that there is a problem and if they do, it is perceived in terms of racism or misunderstanding. This is murder within a family. It is shocking. Obviously the brilliant Tom Thorne, with his lack of political correctness is the best person to help Tanner. This makes for some funny moments, where Thorne just says and does things to offend absolutely everybody. Top marks!

When two young Asian people disappear, Kamal and Amaya, we start to see how complex an issue this is. This is about cultures clashing and about parental expectations. There is the traditional pressure to settle down with a partner chosen by the family versus the pull of Western society and independent choice. This is about arranged marriages over Skype and families forcing compliance. Even the police seem to be stuck trying to play this game in the minefields of political correctness and not offending anyone. Kamal and Amaya’s families want answers. But was this a murder to order? Was one of the families or both of them responsible for this?

Billingham gives us plenty to get our teeth into. Thorne and Tanner are just excellent together, forming a friendship on the way to catching the guilty. We get to know the two killers and see into their empty lives. Plus we get the usual merry banter from Hendricks, Thorne’s best mate and a glimpse into Thorne’s busy home life with Helen and Alfie.

This is terrific and heart breaking. Fast paced and fascinating. It is all very much a relevant issue for contemporary Britain. Honour killings are being carried out every day. No one can read about this issue without feeling outrage. To be murdered by the very people who should love and protect you is horrifying. Mark Billingham has obviously done a great deal of research to turn this issue into a gripping case for Thorne. He has given me much to think about. This is exactly what I want from crime. Recommended!


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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4 Responses to Love Like Blood – Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #14)

  1. RamblingLisa says:

    I was going to buy the first in this series, yesterday, and decided against it due to some Amazon reviews

  2. Pingback: Top 12 Crime Books of 2017 | #northern #crime

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