Sunday, April 19, 2009

The ending will knock you off of your feet

Billingham's first stand alone novel starts with five teenagers driving around London on a hot August night looking for someone to shoot in a gang initiation.
A woman in another car sees that their lights are off and and flashes hers, not knowing that this is the manner that the teenagers pick targets. Shots are fired and the car crashes into a bus stop killing off duty police officer, Paul Hopewood.
Paul's girlfriend, Helen Weeks, is also a police officer. Their child is due any day and Helen decides that the manner in which she can deal with her grief is to find out what was behind Paul's death.
There is a major police investigation to find the car and driver that killed one of their own but certain underworld people who felt that Paul was a friend also pursue the killers. This group is led by Frank Linnell who has the contacts to find out who was in the car that shot at the woman's car and take appropriate steps.
The story is told in rotating voices between Helen, Frank and Theo, the guilt ridden teenager who fired the shots. The action is swift and the characters believable. "Billingham searches the reasons that teenagers are compelled to join gangs and what can result from their decisions.
Members of the gang are found and things happen. The plot moves along and the reader expects that the conclusion will be as things seem but then Billingham pulls the rug out and the surprise is outstanding.
This writer continues to impress.
Highly recommended.

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