EXCERPT: ‘So, what do you think happened, Al?’ L-Plate asked.
I didn’t tell her what I thought because, to be honest, I was scared as much as anything. I was excited, don’t get me wrong, all those professional instincts starting to kick in, but I was . . . wary. Right then, with a body cooling just yards away, it was no more than a feeling and I try to steer clear of those, with good reason. Eighteen months before, I’d had a feeling that the crack-head who’d invited us into his flat on the Mile End Road was harmless. If it hadn’t been for that, there wouldn’t have been any PTSD or any need for the variety of things I poured and snorted and popped into my body to numb that pain. I would not have ended up thinking that the people I loved most in the world were trying to kill me or that strangers could read my mind. I would not have hurt anyone.
ABOUT ‘RABBIT HOLE’: Alice Armitage is a police officer. Or she was.
Or perhaps she just imagines she was.
Whatever the truth is, following a debilitating bout of PTSD, self-medication with drink and drugs, and a psychotic breakdown, Alice is now a long-term patient in an acute psychiatric ward.
When one of her fellow patients is murdered, Alice becomes convinced that she has identified the killer and that she can catch them. Ignored by the police, she begins her own investigation. But when her prime suspect becomes the second victim, Alice’s life begins to unravel still further as she realizes that she cannot trust anyone, least of all herself.
MY THOUGHTS: Mark Billingham is an amazing author. His depiction of Alice Armitage is brilliant, his forays into her mind, scary.
Reading Rabbit Hole was a nostalgic experience for me. It reawakened a lot of memories of patients and incidents from my psychiatric nursing days, some amusing, some not. Billingham has done his research well.
I particularly loved his reference to ‘the seven dwarves of lunacy’ – Angry, Jumpy, Nervy, are the three he named, but let me add Twitchy, Dopey, Spacey, and Deluded to his list. He definitely hasn’t lost his trademark sense of humour, e.g. the Detective Constables who, when she can’t recall their names, Alice dubs French and Saunders. In fact, in Rabbit Hole, Billingham has been able to give his sense of humour free reign. He certainly got plenty of chuckles out of me! Neither do I think naming his main character Alice was a random inclination.
He also has a lot of fun with the nicknames that Alice gives her fellow patients, and I apprecited the run down we got on both them and the staff who care for them.
Billingham uses first person narrative to tell this story. Everything you see, you see from Alice’s perspective. So we are privy to all Alice’s erratic and, at times, manic thoughts, as well as her flashes of lucidity. But, just like Alice, we don’t know what happens when she has her blackouts, or even that they are occurring, which makes for very interesting reading.
Please don’t go into Rabbit Hole expecting a Tom Thorne thriller/police procedural. You will be disappointed. Instead, go into Rabbit Hole with an open mind and be prepared to enjoy a ‘locked room’ murder-mystery set in a (supposedly) secure acute psychiatric ward told from the not always reliable point of view of one of the patients. I had a ball with this read, and I hope that you do too.
I: #markbillingham @groveatlantic
T: @MarkBillingham @groveatlantic
#contemporaryfiction #crime #mentalhealth #murdermystery
THE AUTHOR: Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
This review will also be published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com