Read Lazy Bones Online

Authors: Mark Billingham

Tags: #Rapists, #Police Procedural, #Psychological fiction, #Serial murders, #Mystery & Detective, #Police, #General, #Mystery fiction, #Rapists - Crimes against, #Police - Great Britain, #Thrillers, #Suspense fiction, #Fiction, #Thorne; Tom (Fictitious character)

Lazy Bones

BOOK: Lazy Bones
10.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Lazy Bones
Tom Thorne-3 [3]
Mark Billingham
HarperCollins (2005)
Rapists, Police Procedural, Psychological fiction, Serial murders, Mystery & Detective, Police, General, Mystery fiction, Rapists - Crimes against, Police - Great Britain, Thrillers, Suspense fiction, Fiction, Thorne; Tom (Fictitious character)
From Publishers Weekly

Fans of public television's various BBC
programs would do well to tune into this third in Billingham's series (_Scaredy Cat_;
) featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne and his fellow officers of the London Metropolitan Police Service. After the body of a strangled and sexually violated male is found in a seedy hotel room, Thorne quickly learns that the victim was a convicted rapist. When a second recently released rapist is discovered in the same condition, Thorne believes he has a serial revenge killer on his hands. While some of his fellow policemen feel that the victims deserved their fate, Thorne's commitment to justice remains unfailing. Another murder follows, this time of a pornographer whom the detectives link to the other dead men. Billingham does not delve as deeply into either Thorne's personal issues or those of the other policemen as he did in his last book; the detective's dark brooding on the nature of death is replaced here by a healthier, less obsessive introspection. It's a wise move, making Thorne a more accessible character. He still has problems with women and commitment, and his father is still struggling with Alzheimer's, but Thorne has lightened up enough to get himself a girlfriend (though that doesn't work out quite the way he thought it would, to put it mildly). The structure is much like that of the other books, with the anonymous killer alternating chapters with Thorne and his partners until all of them come together in a shocking climax. This is a mature, intelligent novel by a writer who's as thoughtful as his main character, and the series grows better with each new addition.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Starred Review
In this third engrossing police procedural from the talented Billingham, Detective Inspector Tom Thorne and his London-based serious crimes unit must track down a serial killer of rapists. Exploring the lasting effects of childhood trauma, as have the other books in the series, this entry similarly keeps flashing back to the triggering sequence of events. So the question isn't so much who the killer is, as it is who that killer grew up to be. When the forensics team can't find "the life sentence hidden in a dustball," Thorne must follow up a mountain of less-than-promising leads while generating a sea of new ones in an investigative cycle that starts afresh with each body found bound, gagged, mutilated, and violated. Already beset by slow-witted bosses, minuscule resources, and a tabloid press rooting for the killer, the detectives are further hobbled by relationship problems that illustrate why dating cops can be such hazardous duty. So even as they plow into the investigation, they fail to ask obvious questions and feel increasingly ambivalent about their jobs. In short, they're recognizably human. These compelling characters—along with Billingham's gift for coupling canny observations with effective plot misdirection—mark this a series for long-term success. Next time, though, he should take care not to neglect Phil Hendricks, the multiply pierced medical examiner who ranks just behind Thorne as the most interesting member of the team.
Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

For one night or the other night, wil come the Gardener in white,

and gathered flowers are dead...

James Elroy Flecker, Golden Journey to Samarkand

13 March

Dearest Dougie,

I'm sorry about this being another typed letter, but as I explained before, it's difficult for me to write to you from home, so I do it at work when the boss isn't looking, or in my lunch hour (like today!) or whatever. So, sorry if it seems a bit formal. Trust me, when I'm writing to you, the last thing I'm feeling is formal!

I hope things with you are OK and even if they're not bril iant, I hope that my letters are making you feel a bit better. I like to dream that you look forward to them and that you think of me sitting here, thinking about you. At least you have the pictures now (did you like them?), so you don't have to use your imagination too much ... (wicked grin!) I know that it's real y horrible in there but you must believe that things wil get better. One day you wil be out, with a bright future. Is it sil y of me to hope that perhaps I can play a part in that future? I know that you are in there when you should not be. I know that you being in that place is unjust!!

I should sign off now, because I want to get this in the post before the lunch hour is over and I haven't had anything to eat yet. Writing to you, feeling near to you, is more important than a cheese sarnie anyway (she sighs!).

I wil write again soon, Dougie, maybe with another picture. Do you put them on the wal ? I don't even know if you have a cel al to yourself or not. If not, I hope whoever you are sharing with is nice. They are very lucky!!

It wil al be over soon and when you are out of there, who knows, perhaps we can final y get together. I'm sure the wait wil have been worth it.

Please look after yourself, Dougie. Hope you're thinking about me.

Yours, VERY fstrated ...

10 AUGUST, 1976

He inched himself towards the edge, each tightening of the sphincter muscle moving him a little further across the narrow breadth of the banister's polished surface. He twisted his wrists, wrapping the towel once more tightly around them. Not giving himself the get-out, knowing his body would look for it. Knowing he would instinctively try to free himself.

His heels bounced rhythmical y against the banister spindles below him. The blue tow rope that he'd found at the back of the garage was itchy against his neck. He smiled to himself.

Scratching it, even if he could, would have been stupid. Like dabbing at the skin with disinfectant before slipping in the needle to administer a lethal injection.

He closed his eyes, bowed his head, and let his weight tip him forward and over and down.

It felt as if the jolt might take his head off, but it was not even break a bone. There hadn't been time to do the maths, to set weight against height. Even if there had been, he wasn't sure he'd have known what the relationship between them was. He remembered reading somewhere that the proper hangmen, the Pierrepoints or whoever, could do the calculation, could figure out the necessary drop, based on nothing more than shaking the condemned man's hand.

Pleased to meet you - about twelve feet, I reckon...

He clenched his teeth against the pain in his back. The skin had been taken off his spine by the edge of the stair rail as he'd dropped. He could feel warm blood trickling down his chin and he realised that he'd bitten through his tongue. He could smel the motor oil on the rope.

He thought about the woman, in bed, not ten feet away.

It would have been lovely to have seen her face when she found him. Her liar's mouth fal ing open as she reached up to stop his body swinging. That would have been perfect, but of course he would never see it. And she would never find him.

Somebody else would find both of them.

'He couldn't help but wonder what the authorities would make of it al . What the newspapers would say. Their names would be spoken, would be whispered again in certain offices and living rooms. His name, the one he'd given her, would echo around a courtroom as it had done so often before, dragged through the mud and the filth that she'd spread before her like an oil slick. This time they themselves would be merciful y absent as others talked about them, about the tragedy, about the balance of their minds being disturbed. It was hard to argue with that, now, this very moment. Him waiting to die, and her upstairs, thirty minutes ahead of him, the blood already soaking deep into their mushroom-coloured bedroom carpet.

She had disturbed both their minds. She had asked for everything she'd got.

Half an hour before, her hands reaching to protect herself

Eight months before that,�her hands reaching, her legs spread, on the floor of that stockroom.

She'd asked for everything...

He gagged, spluttering blood, sensing a shadow preparing to descend, feeling his life beginning, thankful y, to slip away. How long had it been now? Two minutes? Five? He pushed his feet down towards the floor, wil ing his weight to do its work quickly.

He heard a noise like a creak and then a smal hum of amazement. He opened his eyes.

He was facing away from the front door, looking back at the staircase. He shifted his shoulders violently, trying to create enough momentum to make himself turn. As he spun slowly around, seconds from death, he found himself staring down, through bloodied and bulging retinas, into the flawless brown eyes of a child.


The look was slightly spoiled by the training shoes.

The man with the mul et haircut and the sweaty top lip was wearing a smart blue suit, doubtless acquired for the occasion, but he'd lst himself down with the bright white Nike Airs. They squeaked on the

gymnasium floor as his feet shifted nervously underneath the table. 'I'm sorry,' he said. 'I'm real y, real y, sorry.'

An elderly couple sat at the table opposite him. The man's back was ramrod straight, his milky-blue eyes never leaving those of the man in the suit. The old woman next to the old man clutched at his hand. Her eyes, unlike those of her husband, looked anywhere but at those of the young man who, the last time he'd been this close to them, had been tying them up in their own home.

The trembling was starting around the centre of Darren El is's meticulously shaved chin. His voice wobbled a little. 'If there was anything I could do to make it up to you, I would,' he said.

'There isn't,' the old man said.

'I can't take back what I did, but I do know how wrong it was. I know what I put you through.'

The old woman began to cry. 'How can you?' her husband said. Darren El is began to cry.

' On the last row of seats, his back against the gym wal -bars, sat a solid-looking man in a black leather jacket, forty or so, with dark eyes and hair that was greyer on one side than the other. He looked uncom

fortable and a little confused. He turned to the man sitting next to him. 'This. Is. Bol ocks,' Thorne said.

DCI Russel Brigstocke glared at him. There was a shush from a red-haired squaddie type a couple of rows in front. One of El is's supporters, by the look of him.

'Bol ocks,' Thorne repeated.

The gymnasium at the Peel Centre would normal y be ful of eager recruits at this unearthly time on a Monday morning..It was, however, the largest space available for this 'Restorative Justice Conference', so the raw young constables were doing their press-ups and star jumps elsewhere. The floor of the gym had been covered with a green tarpaulin and fifty or so sets had been laid out. They were fil ed with supporters of both offender and victims, together with invited officers who, it was thought, would appreciate the opportunity to be brought up to speed with this latest initiative.

Becke House, where Thorne and Brigstocke were based, was part of the same complex. Half an hour earlier, on the five-minute walk across to the gym, Thorne had moaned without drawing breath.

'If it's an invitation, how come I'm not al owed to turn it down?' 'Shut up,' Brigstocke said. They were late and he was walking quickly, trying not to spil hot coffee from a polystyrene cup that was al but melting. Thorne lagged a step or two behind.

'Shit, I've forgotten the bit of paper, maybe they won't let me in.' Brigstocke scowled, unamused.

'What if I'm not smart enough? There might be a dress code...' 'I'm not listening, Tom...'

Thorne shook his head, flicked out his foot at a stone like a sulky


schoolboy. 'I'm just trying to get it straight. This piece of pondlife ties an old couple up with electrical flex, gives the old man a kick or two for good measure, breaking.., how many ribs?'


'Three. Thanks. He pisses on their carpet, fucks off with their life savings, and now we're rushing across to see how sorry he is?'

'It's just a trial. They've been using RJCs in Australia and the results have been pretty bloody good. Re-offending rates have gone right down...'

'So, basical y, they sit everybody down pre-sentence, and if they al agree that the guilty party is real y feeling guilty, he gets to do a bit less time. That it?'

Brigstocke took a last, scalding slurp and dumped the half-ful cup in a bin. 'It's not quite that simple.'

A week and a bit into a steaming June, but the day was stil too new to have warmed up yet. Thorne shoved his hands deeper into the pockets of his leather jacket. '

BOOK: Lazy Bones
10.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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