Rabbit Hole is the 4th standalone thriller by British author Mark Billingham.

It takes place on Fleet Ward, the acute section of a London psychiatric hospital.

Sharing a name with Lewis Carroll’s famous character, our resident in question is 39 year-old Alice Frances Armitage. She has been placed there because of a psychosis and severe PTSD that she experienced as a result of her work as a detective constable with the Metropolitan Police’s homicide unit.

Although she is not yet scheduled for release, she is always on alert and poised to do her job.

Her connection to the force breathes new life and passion into her when unfortunately, one of her fellow patients is murdered. Her instincts immediately kick into gear and she begins to scrutinize the clues at hand, desperate to break the case and find the killer as quickly as possible.

The police themselves prove to be her biggest obstacle. They are polite, but are less receptive to information from a source who is receiving treatment in a mental institution, even if she is one of their own and she was there when it happened.

Alice is frustrated, but tenacious. Soon she has a suspect and a motive, but can she prove it and get the authorities to listen?

Rabbit Hole is an interesting book.

Billingham does a good job of having it sneak up on you and lure you in.

It has a menagerie of somewhat unidimensional quirky characters that Alice has labelled for want of a better memory, e.g. The Waiter, L-Plate, Shaun (the sheep), and who could forget The Thing? They support or antagonize eachother within their far less than perfect confines, fueled at least in part by the fear that one of their own has been killed.

As the plot develops, we get to know the blunt and brutally honest Alice. We gain insight and learn how her mind works through her theories and clever investigative strategies, as well as her struggles with the demons that haunt her.

As the book takes time to progress, we find ourselves being drawn down the rabbit hole along with Alice, being scared with her and for her, trying to sift through fantasy and reality.

With a powerful shocker that you never see coming, it is thought-provoking to discover what truly lies beneath.

Rabbit Hole
Mark Billingham
Sphere 2021

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