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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Amazon offered this novel as one of a selection of free books. I knew nothing about the author and chose Sleepyhead just because it seemed the best one on offer. I made a good choice, the story was excellent, I didn’t want to put it down. Sleepyhead is the author’s debut novel featuring DI Tom Thorne. A psychopath has murdered several women. One woman,...
Published 4 months ago by Shirley Ford

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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A weary plod
I bought this book because I recalled seeing Mark Billingham's face pasted up on tube station walls a while back and I wanted to read the first novel by someone who apparently deserved this attention.

Well, it starts off OK. The detective on the case is the usual hackneyed weary type with a divorce and some kind of drink problem (eyes starting to close), who...
Published on 27 Jun. 2009 by Stuart Walsh


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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 1 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Amazon offered this novel as one of a selection of free books. I knew nothing about the author and chose Sleepyhead just because it seemed the best one on offer. I made a good choice, the story was excellent, I didn’t want to put it down. Sleepyhead is the author’s debut novel featuring DI Tom Thorne. A psychopath has murdered several women. One woman, Allison, survives but has locked-in syndrome, so she is mentally aware, but unable to move or speak. What is the killer’s real motive? Tom Thorne believes he knows who has committed these crimes, but is unable to prove it. He clashes with his superiors and colleagues over his fixation with the suspect. It interferes with a budding relationship with the doctor caring for Allison. I particularly liked how the author dealt with locked-in syndrome, very sad, but also amusing in parts. All the way through, you think that Thorne is gradually getting nearer to proving his case and then! A totally unexpected ending. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more of Mark Billingham’s books.
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186 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 14 Jan. 2003
From the first page, I was hooked. This story revolves around a young woman who has "locked-in" syndrome ie she is a prisoner within her own body, having been attacked and suffering a stroke as a result. At first the police think it was a murder attempt gone wrong, but the truth is even more chilling -- the attacker meant to leave her like this and previous deaths were mistakes on his part. Is this girl the only one with any clues to the perpetrator? Now he has succeeded once, who will his next subject be? I won't reveal any more of the plot, but the writing is superb. The policeman has a great stock of one-liners; he reminded me of Inspector Rebus, and there is a nice injection of black hospital humour. The characters were true to life, nicely flawed, and as a British crime thriller, the reader does not have to contend with Americanisms and superhuman cops. A great read. I'm looking forward to reading Mark Billingham's next.
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78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleep well....., 22 Dec. 2006
By 
O E J - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is Mark Billingham's debut novel featuring the stout figured DI Tom Thorne, just turned 40 and on the trail of a psychopath who kills a number of women `by accident' until eventually he is successful in his most unusual objective : to leave them somewhere in between life and death. The murders are errors on his part while he perfects his technique. Early on we are presented with a prime suspect, or at least someone who Thorne is convinced is the killer, so this novel becomes less of a whodunit as much as a "did he or didn't he?" - and I for one was never completely sure about the answer until hundreds of pages later and the moment of revelation.

Despite the serial-killer storyline, Mark Billingham successfully manages to create a `novel' twist to the well-worn theme by making it clear that all of the murders were mistakes, at least in the mind of the perpetrator who has something of an obsession with Thorne and in addition to making direct (but anonymous) contact with the determined copper he seems to want Thorne to be the one who finally nabs him. Thorne has emotional scars of his own, dating back several years and which unknowing to him have served to shape his personality both as a detective and as a man. All is eventually revealed, and very disturbing it is. Thorne's something of a maverick, sometimes part of the team but often the cavalier, maybe he's on the verge of some kind of burned-out breakdown but just when you think he's going off the rails, he gets back on track again.

Having read Lazy Bones, Scaredy Cat and The Burning Girl in times past I have gone about Mark's work (which all feature DI Thorne) in the wrong chronological order but in a way I feel that I'm the better for it - Sleepyhead is probably the strongest of the story lines and it is convincing, consistent and authentic from start to finish. Yes, even the finish is thoroughly well planned and delivered, dare I say it had the faintest of links to The Silence of the Lambs (by Thomas Harris), in that finale when the doorbell rings and we all expect the FBI to burst into the house of Buffalo Bill but clever time and location manipulation surprised us when the said Bill opened the door to Clarence Starling - I mention this mainly because there is reference early on in Sleepyhead of this exact moment (in the film, and possibly the book), so we are given a hint of the structure of the ending but guess what.....I missed that, so I was taken by surprise. Glad I was too.

Mark Billingham says that writing dark, violent novels such as this and the others in the Thorne series serve as a suitable counterpoint to his very different other life as a stand-up comedian; well those lives are clearly poles apart, because surely the opposite of standing up is lying down, and in Sleepyhead there's quite a lot of that going on.

Dead opposite.

For me, Sleepyhead is Mark's best novel, it's a highly impressive debut and I hope he returns to these very high standards again in the future. Lazybones delivered much of the same, I think it slipped just a bit with Scaredy Cat and more so with The Burning Girl; Lifeless was better and Buried was Billingham back to his best - although Sleepyhead remains my favourite for now (it was also voted the favourite among Mark Billingham fans on a poll on his web-site).

As for you - I suggest you buy the whole lot, all six. You won't be disappointed.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A weary plod, 27 Jun. 2009
By 
Stuart Walsh (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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I bought this book because I recalled seeing Mark Billingham's face pasted up on tube station walls a while back and I wanted to read the first novel by someone who apparently deserved this attention.

Well, it starts off OK. The detective on the case is the usual hackneyed weary type with a divorce and some kind of drink problem (eyes starting to close), who argues with his boss (stretch arms), feels sorry for a victim who's still alive and gets involved with her doctor (yawn) who just happens to have had a fling with the main suspect (Zzzzzzz), then eventually, with no clues finds the suspect who isn't who we/I thought through pure luck (flatline - beeeeeeeeeeeep).

This thing plods along with glacial vigour. We are constantly told that this Thorne guy is one of the best but we never find out why; he certainly doesn't show any Columbo-esque genius - he's stupid: Is it normal police practice to ring up a murder suspect to tell them that you are on your way to arrest them? Being a naive type, I would have thought doing that would give the suspect a chance to escape, but that's just the way my non-police brain works.

And perleeeze!! Finding one door that should be locked and isn't locked is just about getbyable, but three? And is it me, but I thought London had a good transport system with it's 1000's of taxis, 100's of buses and a tube and rail network that are the envy of the world, so why did the person who knew he was a suspect gladly give the 'tec a lift instead of pointing him towards a mode of public transport? Do fibres from the boot of a modern car really stick limpet-like to briefcases? And this one has got to take the total output of Mcvites: A son wants to look like his father so he sprays a bit of grey dye in his hair, and, get this, the woman who has known the father all her working life, doesn't notice the disguise!!!!! Then, there's more, even the genius detective himself admits that the 'disguise' made the son look 10 years older! TEN YEARS OLDER?? Surely the age difference between a professional doctor and his son must be at least 21?

This book is chock full of extremely lazy writing like this. I don't read much detective fiction but this is frankly appalling. For a fantastic police book that, alas, doesn't have much detecting in it but is 100% unputdownable, buy Joseph Wambaugh's "The Choirboys". Now that IS very, very good writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars He clashes with his bosses who are too concerned with paperwork rather than good old-fashioned coppering, 25 May 2015
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This review is from: Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Thorne is a hard-bitten cop, divorced, drinks too much, occasionally uses a bit too much violence, is a bit of a maverick but his unconventional approach based on gut instinct gets results. He clashes with his bosses who are too concerned with paperwork rather than good old-fashioned coppering. If you think you've seen this character before, then you would be right. You've seen him (or her) a hundred times in countless cliched police procedurals, with a selection of the usual hackneyed flaws. The plot limps along with predictability, the twist is leaden and not particularly surprising or shocking. As far as I can remember, we never find out why the killer wants to put people into locked-in syndrome but by then I may well have read over the detail as I simply wanted to get to the end and get it over with.
There are plenty of good police procedurals out there without the need to spend your time and money on this.
Oh, and finally, it's a small point but we get so much detail on London areas, transport, routes etc, (a clunky attempt to give it a sense of place) but then the writer can't even spell St Thomas' Hospital correctly.
As the hapless plod would say at the scene of a crime: "Move along, sir, there's nothing new to see here."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I could say wow ten times over and it still wouldn't justify this book., 10 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
My first impression was - I was sucked in. This is the first Tom Thorne book I have read after hearing so much about the flawed detective. He comes with a past which is evident in the first few chapters. What I also found impressive was that every other chapter is from a different POV. As the book progressed, I found myself gasping for air at the end because you would only realise whose POV it was at the end, and sometimes it shocked me.

As I got to the middle, I felt - Mark Billingham and Tom Thorne definitely have a spot on my bookshelf. The idea of a serial 'killer' whose main intention is to keep the victim trapped in her body is astounding. Imagine fighting for life and then finding out that you are locked in your body. Mark Billingham has willingly pointed readers in the direction of a possible suspect. While Tom Thorne is convinced, others are not. At this point neither was I.

As I neared the end, I thought - The plot is difficult and hard to predict. Tom Thorne unloads his baggage to reader and new companion, Anne Coburn but something about this scene foretold how their relationship would end. In the end, this was also a book about damaged relationships. The revelation of who the killer is and how close he was to everything / everyone from the start, now that's what I call a superb twist.

My final impression and recommendations - I could say wow ten times over and it still wouldn't justify this book. I want to say the author is passionate but its more than passion that bounces of the pages of Sleepyhead. Mark Billingham opens up each character to the point that the reader can't help but make a decision early on. Sometimes as it turns out, you end up being wrong.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads UK Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my book review. This book review is based on my thoughts, opinion and understanding of the book. This book review does not reflect the opinion of other book club members.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the bed-bugs bite...., 11 Oct. 2003
Finally. A thriller I actually enjoyed!
Sleepyhead is a neat little book that sets a very plausable plot and doesn't get too OTT for the sake of it. Despite the blurb on the back, it's not a book that is going to keep you awake at night, but offers a few chills in just the right places.
Character-wise, the book also succeeds. Although Billingham is usually associated with stand-up comedy, Sleepyhead does not turn into a dizzy spoof of itself. Each character certainly makes the odd humorous observation, but no more than any human who finds themself in a stressful situation. The central character, D.I Tom Thorne is believable, although the old formulas of 'hard-boiled detective with a grudge/mysterious past' does crop up on occasion. This is toned down by development of other characters, such as Holland, Hendricks etc.
One thing that the book succeeds on in particular is the relationships between the characters involved. Unfortunately, however, because of this, the ending becomes either a tad predictable, or slightly confusing. I'd like to explain further my reasoning, but I may give something away.
Saying that though, I still enjoyed the book. As I mentioned, I'm not a huge fan of crime thrillers, but this book may be an indication that I may have been unlucky in my fiction selection in the past, and that the crime thriller genre is far from dead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing, 13 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Technically it's well-written but I didn't find it convincing or compelling and it would have been easy for me to give up before the end. Perhaps I've read too many good books recently but I've come to expect an insight into a significant issue and the treatment of locked-in syndrome in this book is too superficial to count.
At first I found it difficult to work out when the novel was set. This wasn't helped when Thorne's car seemed to morph from a Sierra to a Mondeo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea let down by the ending, 28 May 2015
By 
Ivan McKeon (Fleetwood, Lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This is a difficult book for me to review because I was really gripped by it most of the way through but ended up disappointed.
There are some clever and original ideas in here, particularly in the thoughts of a a girl who has been left completely paralysed by her attacker. It's rare to get the thoughts of a victim and she adds a surprisingly witty and humorous commentary on the proceedings. The lead detective is drunken, dysfunctional and hated by many of his colleagues and I never really warmed to him myself.
The whole thing is let down (in my opinion) by a blatant cheat whereby a male character is named in one paragraph but is NOT the person referred to as 'he' in the following ones. The intention is to mislead the reader regarding the killer's identity but this could have been achieved without the (wrong) name being mentioned, as it is elsewhere in the book. To compound this, the ending seems to require a complete change in personalities in two characters to achieve the downbeat ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars the first novel by J B Hunter that I really enjoyed, I was offered a choice of one free ..., 13 April 2015
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Having purchased Wolves Disease, the first novel by J B Hunter that I really enjoyed, I was offered a choice of one free book download from Amazon. Out of a choice of six possible books I chose Sleepyhead. Whilst the idea behind the plot is excellent, having read a quarter of the book I have given up. I found the style of writing irritating in the extreme, especially the introductions to each chapter. When reading a novel it helps to feel some empathy with the lead character. On this occasion I just stopped caring. Had the book been in hard copy it would by now be in either a charity shop or rubbish bin. Thank goodness it was free.
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