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Scaredy Cat (Tom Thorne Novels) [Hardcover]

Mark Billingham
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 July 2002 Tom Thorne Novels (Book 2)

It was a vicious, calculated murder. The killer selected his victim at Euston station, followed her home on the tube, strangled her to death in front of her child. At the same time, killed in the same way, a second body is discovered at the back of King's Cross station. It is a grisly coincidence that eerily echoes the murder of two other women, stabbed to death months before on the same day... It is DI Tom Thorne who sees the link and comes to the horrifying conclusion. This is not a serial killer the police are up against. This is two of them. Finding the body used to be the worst part of the job. Not any more. Now each time a body is found, Thorne must live with the knowledge that somewhere out there is a second victim, waiting to be discovered. But the whilst the methods might be the same Thorne comes to realise that he is hunting two very different killers. One is ruthless and in control, while his partner in crime is submissive, compliant, terrified.

Thorne must catch a man whose need to manipulate is as great as his need to kill; a man who will threaten those closest to Thorne himself; a man, who will show him that the ability to inspire terror is the deadliest weapon of all...

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; First Edition edition (4 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316859532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316859530
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.2 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 464,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Billingham is one of the UK's most acclaimed and popular crime writers. A former actor, television writer and stand-up comedian, his series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award as well as the Sherlock Award for Best British Detective and been nominated for seven CWA Daggers. His standalone thriller IN THE DARK was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, SLEEPYHEAD was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. Each of his novels has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

A television series based on the Thorne novels was screened in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne and series based on the standalone thrillers IN THE DARK and RUSH OF BLOOD are currently in development with the BBC.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Mark Billingham's Scaredy Cat is as inventive his previous serial killer novel a Sleepyhead. Detective Inspector Tom Thorne has the job of watching out for patterns and thinks he spots one--two similar killings on the same day; women followed from a mainline station and then strangled. Rapidly, though, it becomes clear that the methods differed in all sorts of ways--one killing was controlled, the other frenzied--and the timings do not work out. On a hunch, Thorne checks for other such pairings and finds them--this time two killers are working as a team, one setting the other challenges.

We know what Thorne does not, that all of this has to do with things that happened at school years ago; we also know a lot more than Thorne about the demons that drive some of his own investigating team. Billingham sets himself some complicated technical challenges here--flashes back and forwards, and closeups of killers' minds that keep crucial information from us--and some of the complications don't quite work. Overall, though, this is a terrifying exploration of brutal madness, made all the more so by touches of compassion for the killer's victims--the killer may think this a game, but we and Thorne know it is not.--Roz Kaveney


Murder and mystery do not come better than this. (WHAT'S ON IN LONDON)

Brisk, racy read. (THE TIMES)

Assured and shocking thriller. (GUARDIAN)

A cunning variation on the serial-murer theme. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scaredy Cat 17 Feb 2006
Any budding crime writers out there could learn a lot from Mark Billingham. He approaches the genre with original and creative storylines which grip the reader and hold interest throughout. Anyone can write a whodunnit, but Billingham gives us a whole lot more for our money. We are treated to some chilling insight into the mind of the killers (yes, two of them). I liked the way the author planted seeds of suspicion upon various characters, sometimes very subtlely indeed. There are some good twists and turns toward the end of the story, and the final confrontation is a vivid piece of storytelling. The unknown killer's identity surprised me, but made perfect sense. Well done to Mark for misleading this dumb reader!
My only criticism of this story would be that it starts with a very slow pace, although it does pick up very well.
This was the 2nd of his books that I've read (the first being SLEEPY HEAD) and I will certainly aim to read the rest of this series.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Kid on the Block 20 Sep 2003
By Gil_Gibbs_Hotch VINE VOICE
Great precis on the back cover and this book was in my hand ready to be bought. Then, slight hesitancy; written by a stand up comedian ! Still, can't pigeon-hole the guy, so paid up and read it in a day.
This book was completely engrossing from start to finish. DC Tom Thorne and his team battling to catch not one serial killer, but two working as a team; albeit one of them unwillingly. A screenwriter would have little to do to translate this novel on to small or big screen as the style of writing lends itself seemlessly to a HSBC sponsored drama on ITV.
The story is told through frequent use of flashbacks, which are an extremely effective way of keeping the story fast-paced and on track whilst at the same time developing the characters of the killers.
Oh, and like me if you think you've pieced the puzzle together and with a blinding flash of light you've figured out who "he" is, then you'll be equally shocked with the twist in the tale.
Mark Billingham is a fresh talent to the very popular, and some would say saturated genre of murder, mystery. He immerses the reader from page one and does not let go.
One word of advice. Don't go walking alone for a few days after reading this one, as in your mind's eye you never quite know who's watching.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Thorne Novel So Far 28 Oct 2011
I have read a number of the Tom Thorne novels and Scaredy Cat definitely wins my vote as the best so far, within an excellent series. I think what makes this book stand out is that there are so many strands / sub plots that interweave throughout, continually intriguing as to how they will all connect in an ever-building and tense finale. The story centres on 2 serial killers who work as a team, with the use of flashback to their childhoods to explain a sinister relationship. As the pair kill randomly and in cold blood, the most chilling factors are that one has such a menacing influence over the other, and that they both seem to be leading normal lives with respectable jobs. Thorne is on their tail; greatly affected by the fact that one young boy has been left an orphan after his mother became a victim. As usual Thorne makes a lot of mistakes on the way to solving the case, distracted by solving another case involving a serial killer stalking hotel residents, the deteriorating mental health of his father and by constant run-ins with his superiors. It would also appear that some within his team have unexpected vices and relationships. The plot maintains a great level of suspense right to the very end, with a powerful and shocking conclusion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read in three days 17 July 2007
I had read Sleepy Head and really enjoyed it so I gave Scaredy Cat ago.

Yet another cracking read with Thorne and co after two serial killers who seem to communicating.

The dialogue and characterisation was spot on as the last time bust it all seemed a little formulaic. But if it ain't broke....

As I read it I followed it and thought I had it solved. I didn't, then I did, then I didn't, then I did.

Very good read, good to get but after a whle you guess who it is, and I promise you, you're right.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating 14 Sep 2004
I was given both Scaredy Cat and Lazy Bones by my sister to read on holidays. With only three days to my holiday I decided to read the first chapter or two of Scaredy Cat. The result: I've only one book left for my holidays!
Starting off with the first murder and the constant flashbacks in the first section, you get a real feel for the characters, yet at the same time you don't know quite enough about him, so you keep reading. He's cool, always one step ahead of DI Thorne and his team and a master of manipulation.
I also liked the way Billingham sets the seed of doubt in your head as to who the killer may be. I was convinced it would be one of two people but was totally off the mark. I read in some of the reviews that the reader spotted it a mile off. Well, well done to them, I was way of the mark.
Towards the end, there are a couple of major surprises (the identity of the killer being one).
I cant wait to get cracking into Lazy Bones.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but forgettable. 5 Feb 2004
By A Customer
I read a lot of crime fiction and there is a lot of crime fiction out there to be read. Perhaps it is more due to that, than any fault of the author's then, but I personally found this book to be fairly average.
Its plot follows the kind of formula known well to crime fiction readers - the fiendishly clever serial killer (this time there are two working together) pitted against the essentially good but flawed law enforcement officer determined to solve the case, and of course the twist at the end when you discover who the killer is.
The book is well paced and well written but perhaps its biggest failing is the author's failure to create truly interesting and believable characters. Although he does reasonably well with one or two of the main ones, a lot of the supporting cast never really feel like more than names on a page and some of the subplots surrounding them seem very cliched. Even at the end when I discovered the perpetrator of the crimes I was thinking more 'oh, of course' that 'wow, I would have never guessed'.
The book's cover contains a number of quotes praising the book (and isn't every crime thriller these days 'shocking', 'gripping', 'tense' etc etc) one of which likens the author to Ian Rankin and Val McDermid. In my opinion both those authors are vastly superior and far more masterful at creating engaging characters and original plotlines. I would recommend purchasing any title from either author or more particularly 'Along came a Spider' by James Patterson for a more thrilling and satisfying read.
I would not be surprised to see this book appear as a film or, more likely, a made for TV drama some time in the future. Like the book I am sure a lot of viewers will find it enjoyable but ultimately forgettable
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting thriller....
The third book in the Tom Thorne series which will have you on the edge of your seat every bit as much as the first two did. Read more
Published 2 days ago by ***Jesus Loves YOU!***
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Particularly well written thriller.Quite a menacing atmosphere.
Published 8 days ago by doconthemove
2.0 out of 5 stars Curiosity Bored the Cat
Crime fiction comes in various styles; some are just procedural, whilst others like to investigate the life of the officers as much as they do the crime. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sam Tyler
3.0 out of 5 stars Good
I have preferred other books by Mark Billingham. Found that i got more muddled following the plot with this one.
Published 2 months ago by Alison turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read never put it down
This book is so good that i read it in two days around a pool on holiday and never went for a swim until i finished it and trust me its hot in Eygpt... Well worth the sun burns.
Published 2 months ago by matthew cooper
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, poor writer, poor story.
I received this book as a gift and I assume the gifter doesn't like me very much. The plot is poor, swearing is littered throughout the book seemingly as an excuse to show how down... Read more
Published 2 months ago by James L.
4.0 out of 5 stars Scaredy Cat
Gripping till the end.Enjoy the little speeches from the killers during the chapter...Easy reading and another good read from Mark Billingham
Published 2 months ago by paul lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Scaredy Cat
Great read, plenty of twists and turns. My first Billingham book but will certainly not be my last. Accurate settings.
Published 3 months ago by Bob Curgenven
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
It was an exciting story, it was believable but kept you guessing throughout with a clever resolution to the stories conclusion. Highly recommended read.
Published 4 months ago by C. T. Bevan
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as his first
Okay so I know this is only my second Thorne book, but in comparison to the first book this one didn’t have as much, shall we say shine, as the first one. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Best Crime Books
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