Die of Shame is the first of Mark Billingham’s books I have read, but it won’t be the last.
Ostensibly a crime novel, it is also a psychological thriller that, borrowing from the language of support groups to title the various parts of the story, segues between time frames (then and now) and perspectives to tell the tale of a group of former addicts who meet in the home of their counselor and what happens before and after one of their members is murdered.
The group itself is diverse: there is the wealthy housewife, the gay prostitute, alcoholic, drug-addict, over-eater, etc. All of the members have a history of addiction, including their counselor, Da Silva, who is much admired and trusted and has his own personal problems to contend with.
When one of the group is found dead, suspicion immediately falls on each member. Detective Nicola Tanner, a hard-nosed and capable cop determines to uncover the secrets of the group – those that lie buried beneath their history of addiction. In order to do this, she needs to discover what it was on of the groups did that was so shameful, she had to die.
Taut, well-written (even if the time slips can be confusing – mainly because when you put the book down at night and pick it up the next day it takes a minute to orientate yourself), this book is, forgive the pun, addictive. The lives of the group’s members are slowly unpacked and their various motives for addiction and, indeed, murder explored. You find yourself changing your mind as to “who dunnit” and, while I did guess the right person (only towards the end), I didn’t foresee their reasoning.
A terrific read. Looking forward to the next one of Billingham’s.