Review: The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham

Title: The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham
Tom Thorne Series Book 15
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From “one of the most consistently entertaining, insightful crime writers working today” (Gillian Flynn), The Killing Habit again brings together favorite wild-card detective Tom Thorne and straight-laced DI Nicola Tanner on a pair of lethally high-stakes cases.

While DI Nicola Tanner investigates the deadly spread of a dangerous new drug, Tom Thorne is handed a case that he doesn’t take too seriously, until a spate of animal killings points to the work of a serial killer. When the two cases come together in a way that neither could have foreseen, both Thorne and Tanner must risk everything to catch two very different killers.


The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham is a perplexing police procedural that begins with a spate of murdered cats then quickly turns into a search for a serial killer. This newest release is the fifteenth installment in the Tom Thorne series, it can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend the entire series.

Detective Inspector Tom Thorne is taken aback when his boss DCI Russell Brigstocke tasks him with looking into a wave of cat killings. Tom is aware that harming animals is an ominous indicator of a serial killer, which leads him to consult with psychiatrist Dr. Melita Perera for an expert opinion.  Dr. Perera believes the serial killer has already begun killing, so Thorne, along with the help of DI Nicola Tanner, begin combing through cases to find unsolved murders that share similarities. Three murdered women seem to fit a pattern and when Alice Matthews is murdered in the same manner, Thorne and Tanner begin their investigation in earnest.

In addition to “Operation Felix”, Nicola is assigned to investigate the murder of drug addict Adnan Jandali. The case appears to be open and shut since there is plenty of evidence that newly paroled Andrew Evans is Jandali’s killer. Will Tanner believe Evans claim he has been framed and that a woman he only knows as “The Duchess” might be able to help clear him?

On the home front, both Nicola and Tom are dealing with personal issues. Nicola is still grieving the death of her partner, Susan, and she is contemplating a pretty big change that could help her move forward. Tom and his partner Helen’s relationship has hit a rough spot and their discussions always end in a stalemate.

At work, Tom is going through a bit of professional crisis as he ponders whether or not he has lost his “edge” for reading people. He is a bit jaded and uncertain whether or not he still has enough enthusiasm to track down the worst of the worst. Thorne also must navigate the tricky politics that come with the job when he needs permission to move ahead with a major operation he hopes will flush out the killer.

The Killing Habit is a little slow paced as Tom and Nicola are quickly  stymied due a lack of evidence or leads.  Despite his doubts, Thorne still retains his keen instincts as he painstakingly puts the pieces of the puzzle together during the Operation Felix investigation.  He and Tanner also make considerable progress in their quest to locate “The Duchess” but will Nicola find out who is behind the scheme to frame Evans?  Once everything comes together, Mark Billingham brings the novel to an action-packed, dramatic conclusion that will absolutely stun readers. Old and new fans will absolutely love this latest addition to the Tom Thorne series.

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Filed under Atlantic Monthly Press, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, The Killing Habit, Tom Thorne Series

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