Two boys run into the woods—but only one returns—in this new mystery from the award-winning “first-rate British crime writer” (The Washington Post).
In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on the case—which quickly spirals out of control when two people connected to the missing boy are murdered.
As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage . . .
A prequel to Mark Billingham’s acclaimed debut Sleepyhead―which the Sunday Times voted one of the 100 books that shaped the decade―this chilling, compelling novel is the latest in “a series to savor” (Booklist).
“With each of his books, Mark Billingham gets better and better. These are stories and characters you don’t want to leave.” ―Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series
“Mark Billingham has brought a rare and welcome blend of humanity, dimension, and excitement to the genre.” ―George Pelecanos, bestselling author and Emmy-nominated writer
Set in 1996, Billingham's superb 17th novel featuring Det. Sgt. Tom Thorne, a prequel to the series debut, 2001's Sleepyhead, focuses on the search for seven-year-old Kieron Coyne, who's kidnapped while playing in North London's Highgate Wood with his best friend, Josh Ashton. Though their mothers, Cat Coyne and Maria Ashton, are supervising nearby, a distraction makes Maria look away when Kieron is snatched. Josh is too distraught to give details of the kidnapper. Thorne and a team from the Metropolitan Police comb the area and interview possible witnesses. That Maria is divorced from Josh's father, and Cat's boyfriend, Kieron's father, is in prison for violent assault create complications. Suspects include Dean Meade, who claims to be Kieron's biological father, and the boy's teacher, Simon Jenner. Despite being embroiled in a nasty divorce, and contending with his antagonistic boss, Det. Insp. Gordon Boyle, Thorne tenaciously perseveres. Billingham adds tantalizing red herrings throughout. The book's masterly ending features a heart-stopping chase to apprehend Kieron's surprising kidnapper. Established fans and newcomers alike will be thrilled.