Review: The Last Dance, by Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham was taking a real risk writing this book. After two decades of turning one excellent crime novel after another featuring North London’s Tom Thorne, he’s now put that series aside (he says temporarily) and has created an entirely new series set in — of all places — Blackpool. He’s chosen to go with several well-worn tropes including the quirky hero (he keeps pet rats), the sidekick who is a perfect fit because she’s his opposite in every way, and a back-story involving the unsolved murder of the hero’s wife. This could have gone terribly wrong. But Billingham is too good a story-teller to get it wrong. Instead, he’s written an outstanding novel full of likeable (and unlikeable) characters and stories you actually care about. My only gripe is that book ends with a cliffhanger — of course it does — and we’ll have to wait a whole year to find out what happens next.