It's all wrong.
The light winking on the blue mirror of the pool, the sun hats and the sweating beer bottles clutched in their fists. The drone of insects. The smell of warm skin with suntan lotion.
All of it.
Three British couples meet around the pool on their Florida holiday and become fast friends. But on Easter Sunday, the last day of their vacation, tragedy strikes: the fourteen-year-old daughter of an American vacationer goes missing, and her body is later found floating in the mangroves. When the shocked couples return home to the U.K., they remain in contact, and over the course of three increasingly fraught dinner parties they come to know one another better. But they don’t always like what they find. Buried beneath these apparently normal exteriors are some unusual kinks and unpleasant vices. Then, a second girl goes missing, in Kent—not far from where any of the couples lives. Could it be that one of these six has a secret far darker than anybody can imagine?
I've meant to read a book by Mark Billingham for quite some time. I know that his DI Tom Thorne series has lots of fans and I do own the first book, Sleepyhead. Rush of Blood is a standalone crime novel, though Tom Thorne makes an appearance. I read this book as a listen/read combo and Toby Longworth is a good narrator, provided you ignore his 'Southern' accent, which is only in a few parts.
The story itself was very absorbing. There are three British couples on a vacation to Sarasota, Florida. They meet up at their resort and become acquainted. They also meet a single mother and daughter, who are staying at the same hotel. Before the couples return home, the daughter goes missing. Questioned by the police, they are unable to help much. Later, the girl is found dead. The couples get together again for dinners at each couple's home, plus a few more times. They don't really know each other, but have this shared experience of vacation and learning about the ongoing investigation in Florida. And then another girl goes missing - in the UK this time. There are definite similarities. The British police and the Florida police begin to work together. As each dinner party ensues, the couples and the reader learn more about these six people. Everyone has some secrets. Some are very bad.
I liked the way that Mark Billingham related this tale. I did guess what might be the ending and the perpetrator, but there were still some surprises along the way. I'm excited to have another series to begin starring DI Tom Thorne. His part in Rush of Blood was memorable, even though it was small. Recommended.