Die of Shame

Atlantic Monthly. Jun. 2016. 432p. ISBN 9780802125255. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802190369. F
Once a week six people come together in London to talk about their addictive behavior and confront the shame that may account for it. There is an alcoholic doctor, a well-to-do divorcée, a gay prostitute, an obese woman, a drug abuser—even the analyst has a history. When the body of a member is found several weeks after that person was stabbed to death, DI Nicola Tanner is convinced the killer must be someone in the group. The confidentiality of the sessions, the compulsive lying of the participants, the complexity of their backgrounds all frustrate her probe. By the end the reader has identified the killer, but Tanner has not. In Billingham's third stand-alone (after Rush of Blood), chapters move between present and past in which each character's backstory and interrelationship to the group are skillfully revealed.
VERDICT Billingham draws readers in as he fleshes out each character, ratchets up the tension, and surprises—and then does it again while advancing toward an ending that is tantalizingly not final. [See Prepub Alert, 12/14/15; library marketing; eight-city tour.]
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