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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Thorne Novel So Far
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...
Published on 28 Oct. 2011 by Steve Horsfall - Author / Writer

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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but forgettable.
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)...
Published on 5 Feb. 2004


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8 of 8 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, 14 Sept. 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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Kid on the Block, 20 Sept. 2003
By 
Gil_Gibbs_Hotch "Brewster 16" (Guernsey, Channel Islands) - See all my reviews
(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
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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23 of 26 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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9 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Curiosity Bored the Cat, 6 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Scaredy Cat (Tom Thorne Novels) (Paperback)
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. There is a thin line between going into enough depth to give a character meaning and making them seem like a wet lettuce. At times the various characters in Mark Billingham's Thorne series of books are not only wet lettuces, but an entire side salad covered in water. `Scaredy Cat' may just be the most extreme in the series for this.

After two women are strangled on the same day in slightly different ways Detective Thorne and company are put on the case of what appears to be a rare occurrence of two killers working together. Can Thorne and his crew get over their personal issues long enough to protect and serve the rest of us? This might be asking more than you think.

The USP for Thorne is that is unable to develop the hard outer shell that many police officers grow to protect themselves from the sick people they have to deal with. This means he is prone to outbursts of anger, but also makes him really want to catch the killer. For me, it is all little too much, especially with his inner gazing further compounded by his ailing father. It is not Thorne who is the major issue in `Scaredy Cat', but the relationship between the other characters. I would probably pick up an emotion led piece of straight fiction if I wanted to know this level of trials and tribulations.

You may wonder why I have spent so much of my review speaking about the characters and not the case. This is because it is exactly what the book does as well. The hideous case of two killers almost seems like a backdrop to a police melodrama. Thorne is a reasonable character, but Billingham needs to rein in the self-flagellation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Finding the body used to be the worst part of the job. Not any more...", 3 Nov. 2011
By 
Nicola F (Nic) (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is the first Billingham novel I've read and I was interested in the premise- two serial killers working together. I've watched Billingham narrate documentaries on the Crime channel about serial killers (Hindley and Brady, The West's, The Railway Killers etc) and it's quite clear that a lot of research goes into his novels and he knows his stuff.

I have to say that personally I found the first part of this novel a little bit dry and it is quite slow going- its not that it was bogged down in too many details and the plot does move at a reasonable pace, more that I found it hard to get to know DI Thorne, the main protagonist. I don't know if this is because this book is part of a series, or even whether that matters- but clearly a bit of grounding was established with the characters prior to this which I have missed out on. I also didn't like the secondary police characters very much- particularly Mc Evoy. She seemed a bit of a waste of time and I'm glad at the way things worked out with her character.

The book itself is a bit sinister in tone, the nature of the murders isn't glossed over by any means and you learn a lot about the attitudes and past of the two killers which I found interesting- Billingham successfully gets into their heads and they do become believable as characters and left me shuddering. I found myself revolted by their actions and what led to them being the way they are, which is told in flashbacks. If I'm honest, I actually found these flashbacks to be the most interesting aspect of the novel and would have liked to see more of them. Settings and situations are crafted fairly well and I found myself eager to know what would happen as the book progressed. However, by the half way point I did realise the identity of the second killer which just spoiled the book for me- though I hoped I was wrong. I hate predictable crime novels and I'm sorry to say that this is one of them. Other reviewers have talked about the twist not being predictable but in my opinion it was obvious what was coming.

I have awarded this book 3 stars because whilst it held my attention, it is nowhere near one of the best crime/thrillers I have ever read and it took me a long time to get into it properly and had a silly ending. For me, all crime novels are measured against Peter James' masterful creation Roy Grace, and sadly DI Thorne just didn't cut the mustard- he's a bit of a second rate copper I'm afraid. I doubt if I would read one of these books again in future- it just did not live up to my expectations at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not scary, 4 Mar. 2005
By 
O E J - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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Mark Billingham is a very good writer, of that there can be little doubt. I have to admit, however, that Scaredy Cat proved ultimately disappointing. The story line concerns a pair of serial killers whose links go back to their schooldays - but they are not an equal pair. One leads, the other follows. Meanwhile we have Billingham's erstwhile hero DI Tom Thorne, who often comes across as burned out and who occasionally questions his commitment to his career as a detective, such are the demands it brings. I read Lazy Bones some time ago, and found that to be a more 'scary' book than this, despite the references to what the badder of the two baddies plans to do in the slightly hyped-up finale in Scaredy Cat. This book is well written in its detail, and indeed is worth buying, but whereas I was expecting to give it 5 stars when I had finished 90% of the story, the slightly anti-climactic ending led me to trim that rating by one. I really was expecting a shocking ending, but it didn't happen for me. I did admire the better character development in this novel (compared to Lazy Bones) and ended up with a much better understanding of what's going on in Thorne's head - something that Billingham failed to do in the other story. In particular I felt I learned something about life as a detective, both the professional and private, and I reckon that the author has done very thorough research in this field in order to convey the stresses and emotions of his characters so well. As for what motivates his villains to do what they do, this was rather less well explained, even though he devoted considerable time in attempting to do so. I guess it's easier to typecast detectives as opposed to serial killers, but it's a shame because it would be a great read if Billingham had an equal knowledge of the mindsets of both the goodies AND the baddies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorne fans won't be let down by this one, 5 Sept. 2012
The second Thorne novel is different from the first: here we know who the criminals are. There is a lot of background in the form of intriguing flashbacks and character development. The power of personality and persuasion are both emphasised here to chilling effect. This is at times gruesome, harrowing and nerve jangling.

Billingham illustrates an enviable knowledge of the city of London and its criminal underbelly. There are a lot of historical references and landmarks are expertly interwoven into this gripping crime novel.

I also enjoyed the relationships between Thorne, his father and his colleagues Holland, Hendricks, Brigstocke and McEvoy. All of these relationships ring true, enriching what could have been a straightforward `race against time' plot.

The criminals are a particularly twisted and reprehensible pair, what is disturbing is that these former schoolboys have developed a taste for sadism, torture and murder and have become efficient killers in adulthood.

Billingham ensures the shocks and revelations come thick and fast, and it certainly holds the readers attention. This is crime drama of the world-weary kind, with plenty of pop culture references and sardonic humour thrown in. Thorne fans won't be let down by this one.
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Scaredy Cat (Tom Thorne Novels)
Scaredy Cat (Tom Thorne Novels) by Mark Billingham (Paperback - 1 Mar. 2012)
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