... a gripping and at times brutal story. It feels relevant. It feels conflicted. It’ll give you a knot in the stomach. And, it’s pretty uncomfortable reading, too ... Billingham builds his characters well, and if you’ve enjoyed previous books in the series you’ll feel right at home ... What’s a little hard to believe is that Tanner isn’t given more police protection from the start, considering how and why her girlfriend was murdered. The major twist in the plot is a little too easy to foresee as well ... Mark Billingham has shone a light into an area of crime few of us know much about, and this is a must-read book for the summer.
Billingham allows his plot to wander down some pretty dark alleys. A friend of Amaya’s is gang-raped, considered appropriate retribution for talking to the police. And it’s disconcerting to learn that in Pakistan some honor killings can be forgiven by the victim’s family, with no punishment for the murderers. But Billingham saves his real animus for the Metropolitan Police’s Honor Crimes Unit, which receives 3,000 incident reports a year but doesn’t have a website — or even a sign on the door.
As strong a thriller as Love Like Blood is, Billingham fails to fully capture the monstrosity of these crimes and the people who countenance them in the name of morality. Having a comically mismatched pair of killers do the evil deeds doesn't help. But if Love Like Blood doesn't rise to the level of other Billingham novels, it's still a solid effort, bolstered by the social conscience that sets him apart.
Most readers won’t be surprised by the resolution, but very few will predict the unnerving coda. His emphasis on the thorny issues surrounding honor killings allows Billingham to put a new and urgent spin on his tried-and-true procedural formula.
Readers may wish for more tension from the contrasting styles of the two well-drawn leads, or that the main plot could offer more surprises, but one perfectly executed twist at the end will leave them eagerly awaiting the next in this series.