Thursday 24 March 2011

Brighton Book Bargains: First Editions of The Burning Girl, Buried and From the Dead by Mark Billingham

Following on from yesterday's crop of Mark Billingham Lewes Book Bargains, and rounding off a run of posts on Mr. Billingham and his Tom Thorne crime novels, today I have for you the promised Brighton Contingent of the Billingham Book Bargains, all of which were purchased in that seaside city's branch of Oxfam Books (as you'll see from the price stickers on 'em), and all of which were almost certainly cast-offs from the at-the-time-ailing British Bookshops. And they are as follows:

A UK hardback first edition of The Burning Girl, published by Little, Brown in 2004. This is the fourth Tom Thorne novel and is about a turf war between London gangs and a series of copycat killings inspired by a schoolgirl who was burned alive twenty years ago, and the gradually emerging links between those two strands. Unfortunately there's no cover credit on this one, so I can't tell you who designed the dustjacket; it's entirely possible it was either Little, Brown's Creative Director Duncan Spilling or the imprint's Art Director, Sean Garrehy, who between them seem to have created the lion's share of the covers for Billingham's books. Spilling certainly designed the jacket for the next Brighton Bargain:

Which is the UK hardback first edition of Buried, published once again by Little, Brown, this time in 2006. The sixth Thorne novel, it's about a kidnap rather than a murder: a teenage boy goes missing and Thorne is drafted in on special assignment to the police kidnap unit. I really like the jacket on this one; it's not quite so descriptive as other Thorne novel covers, and there's some nice embossing on it as well, which makes it quite a tactile object. Not that I spend large amounts of my time lovingly fondling my books, of course. Ahem. Next!

A UK hardback first edition of From the Dead, published by Little, Brown in 2010, which makes it the most recent Thorne thriller. This one is about a woman who is released from prison after serving ten years for conspiracy to murder her husband, only to find that the man she paid to have bumped off is very much alive. The jacket was designed by Sean Garrehy, and it's another pleasingly subtle piece of work.

So, those are the Brighton (and Lewes) Billingham Book Bargains. I'm still missing a couple of the Tom Thorne novels, including, crucially, 2005's Lazybones, the third book in the series, so until that turns up in a local charity shop, I can't really progress any further past Scaredy Cat (gotta read them in order, obv). Which is why, as I mentioned yesterday, I'll probably read Billingham's standalone novel In the Dark next. Oh, and see below for a comment from Mr Billingham himself.

And that is yer bleedin' lot for this week, chiefly because tomorrow is my birthday and I've got better things to do during the day than post little-read missives about books. Like, er... visiting some secondhand bookshops, for instance. Oh shush. It's my birthday and I'll spend it how I like. As for next week's blogging, I'll have a random selection of posts on, most likely, Kate Atkinson, James Blish (possibly), and one or two other authors besides. Toodle-pip!


  1. Even though I had to skip over parts of Billingham Week (thanks for the spoiler alerts), I did enjoy it. I have the first five books and have been meaning to read them for a while now. It worried me that he was a comedian who became a crime writer (that's not fair and its irrational, I know - people can have careers and become writers, happens all the time - but I was suspicious it was his fame in one area that smoothed the way into the other). But it seems he's the real deal.

    And I am glad, after skimming your TV review of Thorne, that I didn't watch the series. Definitely not worth spoiling the books. Why is it that the changes TV producers make to books they adapt rarely improve things?

    And you really don't like regular mysteries or police procedurals? I find this hard to believe. Not that you would lie about it.

  2. Nick,

    Really enjoyed reading the posts - thanks for some generous words about the books. Our bookshelves look awfully similar...


  3. BG, it's true, police procedurals generally don't do it for me. I've never got near Wexford, Dalgliesh or Rebus, let alone the countless American coppers (apart from a brief flirtation with Joseph Wambaugh). Don't mind a good P.I. story though, or a secret agent. I'm planning on giving P. D. James a go at some point though, so we'll see how that works out.

    Mark, considering I was so narky about the Thorne adaptation, that's very decent of you. Ta for taking the time to read 'em!

  4. So glad for this post. I read the book over the summer and just watched the movie on Netflix. I have memory issues, so imagine how confusing it was for me when the killer was revealed. So thanks for the spoiler, I was doubting my sanity.

    I personally enjoyed the book and didn't sense the newbie vibe you did. I think changing the movie, while it made me doubt my sanity, made it enjoyable. Fun when you think you know but you don't.