Lazybones confirms our sense of Mark Billingham as a thriller writer determined to put ever more inventive spins on the police procedural and the serial killer novel. His police officers--hard-working Country fan Thorne, pierced gay pathologist Hendricks and the rest--find themselves on a case that raises complicated issues for them; they have continually to remind themselves that dead rapists have as much right not to be raped and murdered as anyone else.
Billingham's tricksiness--he tells us just enough of what the killer is thinking to keep us intrigued and confused--goes along with a real sense of London's back streets: the shabbiness of small hotels and the lonely hours of the early morning. The case involves not only pursuing present cases, but chasing up back-story; among all its other merits, this is an intelligent and humane discussion of changing attitudes to rape and its investigation. There was a time, after all, not so long ago, when police regularly failed to take rape seriously enough to get convictions. This is not just an ingenious thriller--Billingham makes us care what happens to Thorne, who is in far more jeopardy than he ever begins to know.