The Dying Hours

Mark Billingham

Series: Tom Thorne Series

Published on: 23/05/2013

Genre: , , ,

Tom Thorne returns in a breathtakingly gripping new case, the eleventh in the series. A cluster of suicides among the elderly. Such things are not unknown to the police and the deaths are quickly dismissed by the police as routine. Only one man is convinced that something more sinister is taking place.However, no one listens to Tom Thorne any more. Having stepped out of line once too often, he’s back in uniform and he hates it. Patronised and abused by his new colleagues, Thorne’s suspicions about the suicides are dismissed by the Murder Squad he was once part of and he is forced to investigate alone.
Unable to trust anyone, Thorne must risk losing the people closest to him. He must gamble with the lives of those targeted by a killer unlike any he has hunted before. A man with the power to make people take their own lives.
Tom Thorne returns in Billingham’s most compelling thriller to date. The Dying Hours is a haunting portrait of London’s dark heart, and the darker heart of a twisted killer bringing terror to its streets.

Click to read a sample

Sample of The Dying Hours


How much blood?

When he’d finally found the right website, once he’d waded through all the mealy-mouthed crap about having something to live for and trying to seek some kind of professional help, once he’d found a site that really told him what he needed to know, that was the one question they hadn’t answered. All the other stuff was there: How and where to cut, the bathwater helping when it came to raising the body temperature and engorging the veins or whatever it was. Keeping the flow going . . .

It was irritating, because once he’d decided what he was going to do he was keen to get everything right. To have all the information at his fingertips. So, how much blood did the body have to lose before . . . the end? Pints of the stuff, presumably. It certainly looks to have lost a fair amount already. He watches the clouds of claret swirl in the water, sees it sink and spin until finally there isn’t an inch of water that isn’t red. Until he can’t see the knife on the bottom of the bath anymore.

Shocking, just how much of it there is.

He thinks about this for a few minutes more and finally decides that in the end, it doesn’t really matter. He might not know exactly how much blood will need to be lost, how many pints or litres or whatever it is now, but there is one obvious answer and it’ll certainly do.


Not painful either, at least not after the initial cuts which had definitely stung a bit. He’d read that it was a pretty peaceful way to go, certainly compared to some and they weren’t an option anyway. This was perfect. Messy, but perfect.

There’s another question he’s been wrestling with on and off since he’d made his mind up and as far as he knows there isn’t any website that can give him so much as a clue with this one.

What comes afterwards?

He’s never been remotely religious, never had any truck with God-botherers, but right now he can’t help wondering. Now, sitting where he is. Christ on a bike, had the water level actually risen? Was there really that much blood?

So . . . the afterwards, the whatever-ever-after, the afterlife.

Nothing, probably. That was what he’d always thought, just darkness, like when you’re asleep and not dreaming about anything. No bad thing, he reckons, not considering the shit most people wade through their whole lives, but even so, it might be nice if there was a bit more going on than that. Not clouds and harps, choirs and all that carry-on, but, you know . . . peace or whatever.

Yeah, peace would be all right. Quiet.

He looks up when the man in the bath, the man who is actually doing all the bleeding, starts to moan again.

‘Shush. I’ve told you, haven’t I?’

The man in the bath moves, his pale body squeaking against the bottom of the tub. He begins to thrash and cry out, blubbing and blowing snot bubbles, spraying blood across the tiles and sending waves of bright red water sloshing out on to the bathmat.

The man watching him adjusts his position on the toilet seat and moves his feet to avoid the water. ‘Take it easy,’ he says. He gently lays his magazine to one side and leans towards the figure in the bath.

‘Why don’t you calm down, old son, and have another mouthful of that Scotch?’

He nods towards the bloodsmeared bottle at the end of the bath.

‘It’ll help, I read that. Just have another drink and close your eyes and let yourself drift off, eh?’

He reaches for his magazine.

‘Soon be over, I promise . . . ’

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About the author:

Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham is the author of many bestselling novels and the creator of the Tom Thorne series. He has twice won the Theakstons Old Peculier prize for best novel of the year. He lives in North London with his family. Read the Tom Thorne series.

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Currently 1 review
  1. Fiona Sharp:

    I have just finished reading The Dying Hours by Mark Billingham. Great book – read a few of his before – think I will have to read the other ones now. I was totally hooked and now feel that I must search out the missing books from my collection of Mark Billingham books! Great promotional video too, you just never know where people’s ideas come from!

  2. May 3rd, 2013 at 11:19 am

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