Rush of Blood Book Review: Mark Billingham’s Surprising Twist

SPOILERS: Rush of Blood, by Mark Billingham, was an easy read with an unexpected twist at the end. But, was it worth the read?

Rush of Blood Book Next to Candles

As you can see, my promise to read a book a month in 2020 has been achieved so far! We started off with two classics, but this month, I chose something a little different, and certainly a lot easier.

Rush of Blood, by Mark Billingham, was published in 2012, so is a pretty modern book (although I have to say, I still think that the 2012 Olympics happened last year – how time flies!). Certainly, in comparison to our previous choices, this was a breeze!

The story itself – a murder mystery beginning in Florida and ending in London – seemed to link to Madeleine McCann‘s disappearance; a family holiday gone wrong, in a sense. However, this one takes a turn for the worse when the murders continue after coming back home…

Rush of Blood Characters

Our story has very few characters, and consists mainly of interviews, and dinners. This makes it pretty easy to follow. However, I think a description of each character is necessary to get your imagination going. Perhaps, through hearing a bit about our suspects, you might have some thoughts on who the killer is before you even pick up the book…

  • Angie: a stay-at-home mother of two, whose life revolves around the murder they were all pretty much witnessed. She spends her days researching the case; this is the most exciting thing that’s happened to her in decades.
  • Barry: Angie’s husband, and a strange match for her, at that. Fat and angry are the words I’d use to describe Barry. The fact that he works for a brother, who he hates, and is not allowed to see his son from another woman, means it’s really no surprise that he’s so bitter.
  • Sue: a skinny woman, sometimes described as anorexic, who is pretty, and very submissive in the bedroom.
  • Ed: Sue’s husband since high school. He’s a man of arrogance, who lies about the fact that his job is becoming null, and continually has affairs. He’s obsessive over his tennis games, and speaks of women as though they’re objects.
  • Marina: a sexy woman who all the boys fancy. She’s the fun-loving type, and an aspiring actress, who isn’t all that faithful to her husband.
  • Dave: Marina’s husband, who is described as having a wife way out of his league. He’s a smart man, whose job in computers is all about designing games, but he knows that he’s smart, and sees himself as superior. The couple are seen as a pretty odd pair by everyone involved.
  • Amber-Marie: a young, special needs child, who goes missing; this is where the story really begins.
  • Jeffrey Gardner: the Floridian detective, who assumes the case when Amber-Marie goes missing. He’s pretty certain that he’s likely to find a body, rather than a missing child.
  • Jenny Quinlan: the trainee detective who pics up the case in England. She’s thorough at what she does, but is clearly intent on pleasing her superior, Detective Gardner.

So, those are our three main couples, and the detectives who take on the case. So, with all that done and dusted, I’m sure you’re dying to know what the plot of the story is. Well, you’re about to find out…

A Book With a Cat Behind It

What’s the Story Behind Rush of Blood?

Our story surrounds itself around our three couples: Barry and Angie; Ed and Sue; and Marina and Dave. Holidaying in Sarasota, Florida, they’ve chosen a cheap option of apartments surrounding a pool, with a short strip of shops and restaurants nearby.

They become friends right off the bat, and spend almost every night together from the beginning to the end of their holiday. However, they really couldn’t have expected something so gruesome to happen on their final day away…

Amber-Marie, a young, special needs girl, shared her holiday with these couples, as her and her mother stayed in one of the apartments too. However, whilst relaxing poolside on their final afternoon in Florida, Amber-Marie goes missing. After some short initial interviews, the couples are not suspected, and they make their way home to England.

Back in England, the couples get back in touch, and meet for a number of dinners, taking it in turns to host. Meanwhile, back in Florida, Amber-Marie’s swollen, mangled body is found floating in the Floridian mangroves near the apartments. Now, the investigation becomes a murder hunt.

When another special needs girl goes missing from a school on the outskirts of London, it’s clear that there’s a link between the two. The connection between the two deaths? Our three couples who continue to meet up for drinks and dinners throughout the story.

Is there a connection between these two deaths? Are our couples involved? As the British and American police team together to solve the murders, the tale reaches a peak when the truth is unveiled…

Mark Billingham Breaking the Barriers

What’s really interesting about the story as a whole is that it really plays on our stereotypes of what we believe the classic murderer to be. What would you think of when you imagine a child murderer? My first thoughts are usually white middle-aged male, right?

What’s great about this story is that you’re convinced you know who the killer is, so much so that you doubt yourself. Your stereotype lives within the story, and you try so hard not to pin the murder on this stereotype throughout the whole novel. But, it becomes almost impossible to see past it.

Even so, you start to see the other men as the killers from little things they do, as you simply don’t believe that the killer would be the person you stereotype him to be. But, deep down, there’s always that part of you that thinks, “these other two men are harmless. The real killer has got to be the stereotype”.


In the same way, the characters within the novel don’t even blink an eye when these stereotypes come to fruition. To them, this person was the obvious choice for the murder, which is why the final twist is so unexpected.

What’s very interesting is that, when we read from the point of view of the killer, we read it from a male gaze. I only ever envisaged a man, and I think this is what Billingham intended. So, when the truth finally outed, we were all shocked to hear who really committed the murder…


Cat on Top of a Book

My Overall Thoughts on Rush of Blood…

This book did exactly what I intended it to do; provided an easy read after having consumed the monster that was The Woman in White. It was a great break, especially because my main reading time is on the bus each morning. Sometimes, a more chilled read in the morning is exactly what you need.

All in all, I would say I enjoyed reading this book; I wanted to continue reading throughout, and the writing was easy to follow. Personally, I find conversation to be the easiest writing to read quickly, and immerse yourself in. This story was not short of conversation, which is something that made it a flowing and gripping read.

At times, it was perhaps a little slow, but I think it’s definitely a great holiday book. Certainly one to enjoy poolside, which I think would really bring the gravity of the plot to life.

Have you read Rush of Blood, or do you have any more Mark Billingham books to recommend? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations below, so I can get inspired with more stories to get stuck into. Do you think you’ll be reading Rush of Blood any time soon?

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