A Quickie with Mark Billingham

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

The Killing Habit is the fifteenth Tom Thorne novel and begins with Thorne being handed the case of a notorious killer of domestic cats. It’s based on the ongoing and unsolved case of the individual who was known first as the Croydon Cat Killer but is now known simply as the UK Cat Killer as he (or she) has expanded the area in which they commit their crimes. The police are obviously keen to catch this person before they move on to altogether more serious crimes. It seemed like a good place to kick the story off, though it obviously moves into somewhat darker territory. All crime writers are very aware that some readers – even though through they love grisly murder mysteries – can get very upset about violence perpetrated on animals, so I’ve been extremely careful to avoid any of this on the page. I don’t want anyone coming after me! Even though my previous book was about honour killings, this one already seems to be more controversial…

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

“How To Avoid A Proper Job”.

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

Nothing TOO bizarre, as yet, but one person recently seemed oddly obsessed with what my choice of snack was when I’m working. Answer: I’m a little too partial to pork scratchings than is probably healthy.

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

Well, it would be fantastic to knock something up with Dashiell Hammett and it’s probably easier than picking a writer who is still alive. The truth is, any kind of co-write is tricky. Writers don’t tend to play well with others. Actually, we play together VERY well, but writing together would be another thing entirely…

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

I am the rightful heir to the throne of Russia.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

This Is What Happened by Mick Herron. A standalone from the author of the superb Jackson Lamb series, this is Herron at the top of his game. A masterclass in suspense writing with a twist to die for.

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh. A breakneck legal thriller that you will read without bothering to eat, sleep or do anything else. Like John Grisham has taken performance enhancing drugs.

The Old Religion by Martyn Waites. The first thriller for a long time under his own name and it was certainly worth the wait. Brexit noir meets the Wicker Man, and enough to put you off ever going into a friendly-looking pub in Cornwall.

Who is Mark Billingham: Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers. A former actor, television writer and stand-up comedian, his series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award as well as the Sherlock Award for Best British Detective and been nominated for seven CWA Daggers. His standalone thriller IN THE DARK was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, SLEEPYHEAD was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. Each of his novels has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

A television series based on the Thorne novels was screened in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne and series based on the standalone thrillers IN THE DARK and RUSH OF BLOOD are currently in development with the BBC.

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