Mark Billingham: Scaredy Cat



It was a vicious, calculated murder. The killer selected his victim at Euston station, followed her home on the tube and strangled her to death in front of her child. At the same time, killed in the same way, a second body is discovered at the back of King’s Cross station. It is a grisly coincidence that eerily echoes the murder of two other women, stabbed to death months before on the same day…

It is DI Tom Thorne who sees the link and comes to the horrifying conclusion. This is not a serial killer the police are up against. This is two of them. Finding the body used to be the worst part of the job. Not any more. Now each time a body is found, Thorne must live with the knowledge that somewhere out there is a second victim, waiting to be discovered…



Scaredy Cat is the second novel in the Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham. It begins with the murders of Carol Garner and Ruth Murray – at the same time, but in separate London locations. DI Thorne suspects that the person responsible for the murders of these women is also responsible for two other murders which took place five months previously, therefore he must catch the killers before they strike again. As the investigation gathers pace, Thorne realises that he and his team are looking for not one, but two killers. He is surprised a few days later when Martin Palmer presents himself at the police station claiming to be responsible, but it is clear that his partner in crime does not want to stop his killing spree, or be found. Can he help them to find his accomplice?

Scaredy Cat is a novel with many layers. There are several twists, which make it very difficult for the reader to predict the identity of the second killer, and this keeps us guessing until the very end. I found this aspect of the novel intriguing. However, it was also frustrating in some ways, because as strands of the plot do not come together until the end, it feels as though once they are revealed, there is not enough time to explore them in more detail. An example of this is DS McEvoy’s cocaine use. This is introduced to the reader at a fairly early stage, but is not developed until the end, when its relevance to the plot becomes more apparent. This means that the reader learns very little about what drives her to use drugs, or what makes her character tick.

As the second novel in which DI Thorne is the central character, Scaredy Cat enables Billingham to develop his characteristics and sometimes unorthodox methods. This helps the reader to relate to him more easily, and become more involved in the cases on which he works.

I look forward to reading the third in the series!

Scaredy Cat is available from Amazon.



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