The Wrong Hands

Atlantic Monthly. (Detective Miller, Bk. 2). Jul. 2024. 416p. ISBN 9780802163097. $27. M
Billingham’s droll detective returns with a bang and a briefcase. He’s still working with DS Sara Xiu, still dancing with his ex-police friends, and still hunting for the murderer of his beloved wife, Alex, a fellow police officer. His relentlessly warped humor covers a battered and grieving heart. Two petty criminals decide to try a new line in crime: stealing briefcases from men in public restrooms. Distraction, theft, and a speedy departure is the overall plan, but the first theft does not go well. The briefcase, when opened, reveals a pair of severed hands that are proof of a contract killing ordered by a local gangster. The killer, an incessant maker of lists and a devoted fan of Midsomer Murders, needs the hands back to prove that the killing took place so that he can get paid. When one of the thieves delivers the briefcase to DS Miller, a twisty tango of characters and mayhem ensues. Will one of the local crime kingpins—or their wives—win the battle for control?
VERDICT Billingham continues his Detective Miller series in style. Wryly comic, fast-paced, and sharply observed, this excellent sequel to The Last Dance will be welcomed by the author’s fans.
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