The Last Dance by Mark Billingham marks a new chapter for the author of the D.I. Tom Thorne mystery novels. His new character, D.I. Declan Miller, is an original and very endearing character and The Last Dance is an excellent thriller with a touch of oddball humor.

D.I. Declan Miller is back on the job a few months after the murder of his wife, a D.I. with the Serious and Organized Crime. He is assigned a new partner, Sara Xiu (pronounced jus, which leads to her nickname Posh Gravy). They are assigned to a rundown hotel where 2 murders have been committed in adjoining rooms.

One of the bodies is that of Adrian Cutler, the son of a mob boss Miller`s wife was investigating. The other body belongs to a civilian who seems to have no history.

What makes The Last Dance interesting and original is Miller has a thing for using the exact word, has conversations with the ghost of his ex-wife (much like French coroner Balthazar), and belongs to a social dancing group. The interaction between D.I. Miller and Posh Gravy features a lot of comic banter, banter which, to Miller`s dismay, reveals little about Xiu’s private life.

Declan Miller cannot figure out which of the two local crime families is responsible for the murders. Meanwhile, he is totally frozen out of the investigation in his wife’s murder and feels its investigators are dragging their feet.

In addition to an original and comic main character, Mark Billingham shows a sense of humor in certain scenes which make The Last Dance a little unusual and that much more fun to read.

The Last Dance being the first in a series, there is a loose thread at the end which may frustrate certain readers and annoyed this one.

The Last Dance
Mark Billingham
Little, Brown & Co 2023
400 pages

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