BOOK REVIEW: 'From the Dead': D.I. Tom Thorne Works With Private Investigator Anna Carpenter in the Case of a Dead Man Who May Not Be Dead

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen

When you hire a man to kill your husband, Donna Langford reasons, you expect him to stay dead, especially after you've spent ten years in prison for the nasty deed.

That's the weird beyond belief situation that drives the ninth D.I. Tom Thorne novel by Mark Billingham, "From the Dead" (Atlantic Monthly Press, 416 pages, $26.00).

BOOK REVIEW: 'From the Dead': D.I. Tom Thorne Works With Private Investigator Anna Carpenter in the Case of a Dead Man Who  May Not Be Dead

Detective Inspector Tom Thorne is frustrated when a man, Adam Chambers, that  he has arrested and testified against in the disappearance and presumed murder of Andrea Keane not only is acquitted but decides to attack the police in a media campaign in England, a country that is driven by perhaps the most sensational newspapers in the world.

On top of that, he learns that another case of his -- the brutal murder of Alan Langford -- appears to come back from the dead as he learns from young private investigator Anna Carpenter that the woman who hired a hitman to kill her husband is getting photographs of a very much alive man who appears to be her husband.

A decade ago, Alan Langford’s charred remains were discovered in his burnt-out car. His wife, Donna, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder her husband and sentenced to ten years in prison. But before she is released, Donna receives a nasty shock: an anonymous letter containing a photo of her husband. The man she hates with every fiber of her being—the man she paid to have murdered—seems very much alive and well. But how is it possible that her husband is still alive? Where is he? Who sent the photo, and why?

"From the Dead" is not for the faint of heart: The opening describes in gruesome detail how two men handcuff a third man to the steering wheel of Jaguar and set the vehicle on fire.

Donna Langford hires Anna to find out who is sending her the photos of a tanned man who appears to be her husband. He appears to be living on the Costa del Sol of Spain, a popular place for Brits who want to live in a sunny climate.

Anna gets in touch with D.I. Thorne and they work together to discover if Langford is still alive, and if not, who became a crispy critter in the Jag. The bodies start piling up, including the still imprisoned hitman,  in a novel that reveals the dark side of human nature. I'm not going to say more, since much of the book constitutes a big spoiler. OK, I'll say one thing. The frustrating case of Adam Chambers is resolved at the end. 


Mark Billingham
Mark Billingham

About the Author

Mark Billingham is one of England's best known and top-selling crime writers. He has twice won the Theakston's Old Peculier Award for Best Crime Novel and has also won a Sherlock Award  for the Best Detective created by a British writer. Billingham lives in North London with his wife and two children. His website:

Publisher's website:



Comments powered by Disqus