Die of Shame by Mark Billingham – 3.5*s

Die of Shame


Every Monday evening, six people gather in a smart North London house to talk about addiction. There they share their deepest secrets: stories of lies, regret, and above all, shame.

Then one of them is killed – and it’s clear one of the circle was responsible.

Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner quickly finds her investigation hampered by the strict confidentiality that binds these people and their therapist together. So what could be shameful enough to cost someone their life?

My Review

Die of Shame is a standalone novel featuring detective Nicola Tanner and not our old friend DI Thorne, although there is a humorous cameo role for his friend and pathologist Philip Hendricks.

The story centres around a weekly self help therapy group for addicts, whose addictions vary from drink and drugs to porn and food via shopping and shoot ‘em up computer games. What becomes apparent is that behind the addictions lie causes that some are more reticent to admit than others. When one of them is murdered, it is time for the secrets and lies to be revealed.

The story unfolds via dual timelines of Then and Now. The “Then” focusses on the group meetings and the backgrounds, lifestyles and relationships of and between the attendees, while the “Now” focusses on the investigation. To further complicate the mix these are interspersed with prison interviews between convicted murderers and an unidentified someone who wants to know why they killed. So be warned, it requires a fair bit of concentration unless you want to find yourself flipping back through pages to pick up the thread (and that can be a pain with an ereader!).

On the whole I enjoyed this book, though I did get a little bored at times with the group therapy sessions, initially it was a way of getting to know the characters but after a while I had too much of the self obsession and repetition. I guess I’m more of a straight police procedural sort of girl as I preferred that strand of the storyline. I liked Nicola, thought she had a fair few neurosis of her own, along with interesting relations with her colleagues and partner Sue. If the author is looking to put DI Thorne into semi-retirement I for one would be interested in seeing more of Nicola, as she certainly has potential.

In general, the storyline had plenty of red herrings and blind alleys to keep you guessing as to who dunnit and an ending that was not anticipated for several reasons, but I’ll leave you to discover those yourselves. Overall an intelligent and intriguing read but a bit stodgy for me in places.

I received a free ecopy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.




  1. I always find it interesting to read other reviews of books I’ve loved, more so perhaps when the reviewer doesn’t agree with my thoughts. I enjoyed seeing the way the group interacted with each other in the therapy sessions and found this to be a real page turner – but, I can understand that if you prefer a more traditional police procedural why this slowed the read down. A good balanced review 😊


    • Thanks Cleo, it’s only since I’ve started writing reviews that I’ve started to understand more about what I really enjoy. I would have said in the past I liked psychological thrillers but I’m beginning to see I don’t as I’m invariably at odds with other reviewers about those as well. The plus side of that means fewer books to feel the need to read ☺

      Liked by 1 person

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