The Burning Girl: A Detective Thorne Mystery
Some fires never go out…
Thorne’s got plenty on his plate when he agrees to help out ex-DCI Carol Chamberlain rake through the ashes of an old case that has come back to haunt her. Schoolgirl Jessica Clarke was lit on fire twenty years ago. Now, Gordon Rooker, the man Chamberlain put away for the crime, is up for parole, and it seems there’s a copycat on the prowl.
Or perhaps it’s someone trying to right a serious wrong: Jessica Clarke was the victim of mistaken identity. The intended target was the daughter of a gangland boss, a woman who would grow up to marry the current leader, Billy Ryan…
Thorne quickly identifies a tenuous link between the two crimes, and past and present fuse together to form a new, horrifying riddle. One that involves more killings, violence, greed, and a murderous family with no values—except gain at any price.
When an X is carved into his front door, Tom Thorne realizes that fires, once thought to be out, continue to burn.
With The Burning Girl, Mark Billingham steps away from the inventively vicious serial killers of his earlier thrillers to have his police detective Thorne investigate something equally unpleasant—the men who kill for money not kicks and the gangsters who ruthlessly employ them. Thorne’s retired friend Carol put Rooker away years ago for setting fire to a girl—whom he mistakenly believed to be the daughter of gang-boss Kelly; the girl did not die, then, but wished she had. Now someone is ringing Carol, saying it was them that burned the girl, and Rooker is promising to tell the truth; Ryan, Alison Kelly’s ex-husband and her father’s chosen successor, is caught up in gang warfare with a new North London Turkish mafia. As always, Billingham delivers psychological insights you half wish you didn’t have, along with a profound sense of just how far the damaged Thorne will go in the name of justice. Anyone who knows North London will recognise this as being as atmospheric as it is moody—Billingham continues to develop from book to book. — Roz Kaveney