Billingham publishes a standalone novel about murder in both the United States and England. It first came out as a paperback, and is now being released as a hardcover.
The plot involves three initially unconnected British couples that meet at a pool in their vacation hotel in Florida. They become fast friends and enjoy the respite offered by time lounging away from pressures in their daily life.
The vacation is spoiled, however, by the disappearance of a young girl during their last day in the sun. Her body is discovered hidden in the mangroves close by.
The couples return to their homes and to the normality of work while thinking back about the horror of the murder occurring while they were vacationing. They decide to try and keep their new friendship alive by meeting at each of their homes for dinner.
The three dinners integral to the story bring out flaws and defects in their individual characters not seen during the relaxed atmosphere of their vacation. Also the investigation of the murder in Florida continues with the police in London doing interviews of the six vacationers and reporting the details to the U.S. authorities reviewing the crime.
A murder takes place in the area that the couples live in with details coinciding with the one in Florida. It is a young girl with a mental defect about the same age as the American crime victim. The combination of the effort in both England and the U.S. brings the murders close to a solution with attention focused on vacationers from the U.K. vacationing or traveling to Florida during the period of the first killing. An unexpected ending is logical and well done bringing the mysteries to a close.
I have enjoyed Mark Billingham’s novels in the past, like this one, but have one overall observation. The pace is slower than it should be, the characters just there but two dimensional. I read the book slowly not being led into any all nighter, but certainly did not toss it aside as uninteresting. This observation will not stop me, nor, I feel, other readers from seeking out future novels by the author.
2/17 Paul Lane
RUSH OF BLOOD by Mark Billingham. Atlantic Monthly Press (February 7, 2017). ISBN 978-0802125910. 480p.