Have I spoken before about my love for Mark Billingham? Well not for him, I'm not going all Annie Wilkes on him, I mean of course, his novels. I love them. I was one of the people proclaiming how Tom Thorne would made a fantastic TV detective years before he did; so initially I was a tad disappointed that Die of Shame was not a Thorne novel but a Tony De Silva one.

Only initially though because, as usual, Billingham enveloped in a big, fluffy (albeit slightly bloody) blanket of wonderfulness.

I really could have lived without the events on pages 340-341 (1st edition hardback), not because they were out of place, but I just felt so let down by De Silva. Are men really this weak? Was it that he had to risk everything only to see what he really hard? I can't believe it was Heather's irresistibility, as that totally goes against my mind's eye picture of her. Anyway this major lapse aside, Tony is a very interesting, flawed yet likeable, character.

The other characters in Tony's Monday night group, are as equally accessible and I have to say I gave a inward squeal at the newcomer towards the end of the book.

The novel flicks between 'Then' and 'Now' which works extremely well in building up the tension and whodunnit element of the story. I did guess both crimes, but I didn't mind that in the slightest, and I don't think I'm brushing it aside just because it's Billingham. I was interested enough in the characters and their journeys to not worry about solving it. It all made logical sense and so I was happy enough with that.

Mark Billingham has a very homely (I struggled with whether to make an analogy to country music here!) way of writing. I don't mean that in any way negatively, but it's just like being in a safe place. I can rely on him to carry me through the story, not babysitting, just leading me like an older brother. I know when I choose one of his books that I'm going to get something enjoyable and interesting; just a bloomin' good read - Die of Shame is no exception.

This usually would be the perfect place to end, but we're also treated to a little bonus short story at the end of the hardback edition, so it just feels rude not to mention it.

I did enjoy this little 21 page extra. I often marvel at the skill people have to write a novel. Even when I rip it to pieces because I thought it was a pile of poo, it was still a better pile of poo than I could produce. But short stories? That's a whole different set of cleverness. Being able to produce something so succinctly with crafted, developed characters, setting, and an accessible, rounded, intriguing story - it's amazing really when you think about it.

So, this was a great example of a very clever short story.

It was both interesting and dare I say it, filled with a tension that was palpable. The old woman was terrifying and it brought a whole new version of 'strange man with a dog' adages we were told as children. As I said earlier I enjoyed this, even though it had me just a teeny bit scared!