Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mark Billingham's Rush of Blood Gave me a Rush

I often forget how much I've always loved murder mysteries. I spend so much time reviewing literary fiction for Library Journal and reading Florida-centered books for WGCU that I've had to practically give up my old genre of choice, favorites since my mom first introduced me to the Mason Library in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A few weeks ago I was browsing some website or another looking for novels set in Florida and discovered a Brit named Mark Billingham. http://www.markbillingham.com/Happy day!

Product Details
Set in Sarasota - which I needed - and in the UK - which all great murder mysteries need - this book filled the bill, introduced me to some disagreeably icky tourists, and kept me thinking, though I did suss out the murderer before the denouement.
Three couples, Angie and Barry, Sue and Ed, and Dave and Marina are vacationing in Sarasota. All are hanging out at the Pelican Palms pool sipping G and T's, when one of the group overhears the distinctly British accent of another. Conversation ensues and, sure enough, they are all from the same general area of Great Britain just outside of London. Small world.
Of course says Ed, the know-it-all of the group, they must all eat together one evening. And that evening turns into every evening, then every day too, and pretty soon they are an inseparable posse, though they have little in common and wouldn't give each other the time of day back home.
But on the last full day of vacation, sated with sunshine and beer, the group is suffering from a case of collective guilt. A girl has gone missing. Amber-Marie, born with some obvious learning disabilities, has been enjoying the resort with her mom. For two weeks she's been chatting up the Brits, coloring in her books, and being feted with a little more attention than she'd normally get, an ice cream here, a candy bar there.
Now the place is crawling with cops, the Brits have flights to catch and hey, they didn't really know her did they? Just a girl with a big smile and a trusting manner but not their problem, right officer? Cursory statements are given and rental cars returned. Normally they'd never see one another again but they didn't reckon on Angie, a lonely housewife without enough to keep her busy, and with a sullen husband who doesn't like to socialize.
Angie straight away decides to entertain the other two couples, keep the friendship going, attempt to stay in vacation mode. Plus, she's an internet fanatic. From across the pond she's been following the investigation into the girl's disappearance and has convinced herself that everyone will want to be apprised of each new bit of scuttlebutt. Maybe, maybe not.
Characterization and conversation are Billingham's forte. Each person is annoying in his own way but still sympathetic, insecure, and terribly human. Their conversations are quotidian but their silent musings are delectably interesting. Sarasota's finest, Detective Jeff Gardner is imbued with heart and compassion while his cohort in London, ambitious DCI in training Jenny Quinlan, is a pure delight. The murderer's voice is coldly terrifying.
If you're in the market for a smart, suspenseful mystery sprinkled with enough red herrings to keep you guessing then I recommend "Rush of Blood." In fact, I'm placing holds on a few of his other novels the minute I finish typing.



Paul Woodside said...

Sounds like a book I'd like! Will add it to my never-ending list!!

Gloria Drake said...

Reading mystery or especially suspense novels is my treat to myself after reading book discussion titles and Lib Jrnl titles. They tend to be fast-paced and I have no obligation beyond enjoying them. Somehow have missed out on Billingham. Will give him a try.

Sallyb said...

I think you'll enjoy him ladies. I hear you Gloria. It's sad that we have to consider our suspense novels as a guilty pleasure.