In The Dark by Mark Billingham
Published by Little Brown London on August 7, 2008
A rainy night in London. Shots are fired into a car which swerves on to the pavement, ploughing into a bus stop. It seems that a chilling gang initiation has cost an innocent victim their life. But the reality is far more sinister … One life is wiped out and three more are changed forever: the young man whose finger was on the trigger; an aging gangster planning a deadly revenge, and the pregnant woman who struggles desperately to uncover the truth. Two weeks away from giving birth, how will she deal with a world where death is an occupational hazard? In a city where violence can be random or meticulously planned, where teenage gangs clash with career criminals and where loyalty is paid for in blood, anything is possible. Secrets are uncovered as fast as bodies, and the story´s final twist is a breathtakingly surprising as they come.
I never read anything by the author. And within the first few pages, I had to look when Mark Billingham wrote it because it sounded a bit strange.
There were things in the story I couldn´t connect with the present. And it turned out, that this book was written somewhere in 2008.
Paul Hopwood gets killed in what seems to be a tragic accident. But when his highly pregnant life partner Helen starts to ask questions, it soon becomes clear to her, that a few things don´t fit into the picture her colleagues want to draw. And when Paul´s boss shows up at her doorstep and a stranger breaks into her house Helen knows by instinct, that something is terribly wrong.
Mark Billingham has a writing style which feels a bit dry. There is a certain distance I couldn´t get over. It seemed as if the author WANTED the reader not to get too close to everything that happened.
Written from the figural narrative situation, the reader is thrown from the beginning into a sometimes really great written plot and the next minute the plot is one chaos. The scenes jump from one to the other and not always it is clear right away who the character is the reader is now watching.
Some street dialect, some very bloody scenes, a blunt tone and a language you don´t want your kids to speak. Mark Billingham´s writing style is clear, sometimes very blunt and easy to understand. And there comes on some pages a very British humor through. I had my fun with that, and some parts of this thriller I could really enjoy, but not all of them. There are pages in which I needed a few lines to understand where the plot now was and what character I had in front of me. That is something I don´t really appreciate in a book. Not when there is no paragraph that shows that I am now in a new scene, place or with another character.
The author doesn´t bother giving the reader much of a figure description. There is plenty of room for the readers own fantasy. But most figures convince with their actions and with their words. One of the most impressive is Helen. She doesn´t give a damn about what others think about her. She says what she thinks, uses her pregnancy to get what she wants and as a very welcome excuse to do things she otherwise would be criticized for. After a while I really liked her. She isn´t weak, fights for the truth and does everything to get the information she believes that she needs to achieve her goal: truth.
And when she finally learns the truth what really happened and why it isn´t only a surprise for her.
Not really the best, but not really bad either; just average. Yes, the plot itself is great and in some ways really wonderful shown, but over the half of this thriller, I didn´t know exactly with whom I was dealing. So I leave it up to you if you want to read it, or not.
Mark Billingham is a stand-up comedian. He received the 2003 Sherlock Award for Best Detective created by a British writer and won the Theakston´s Old Peculier Award for best crime novel of the year. He has also been an award-winning children´s writer. He lives with his wife and two children in London.