Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels) Paperback – 4 Jul 2002
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|Paperback, 4 Jul 2002||
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The art of inducing fear in a reader via the printed page is a speciality of only a few skilled craftsmen. Mark Billingham is such an author, and Sleepy Head is such a book. The blurb on the jacket warns that we are in for a disturbing experience and that is precisely what we get: "He doesn't want you alive. He doesn't want you dead. He wants you somewhere in between".
The killer who Billingham's protagonist Tom Thorne is up against is a particularly creepy specimen: he has savagely killed three victims but his fourth, although alive, is perhaps not so fortunate. She has undergone a deliberately induced stroke and although all her senses are intact, she is totally unable to move or communicate. This hideous condition, called Locked-in Syndrome is, however, quite possibly the killer's first miscalculation ... or is it? Soon the dogged Thorne (given to distrusting his own abilities) is playing a cat-and-mouse game with a psychopathic killer. And the brilliant and sadistic killer is just as interested in leading Thorne a merry dance as he is in fulfilling his degraded obsessions.
All characterisations here are spot-on, even the killer (although one wonders just how many more hyper-intelligent psychopaths readers will be prepared to take) while the British setting is handled with intelligence, the horrific set pieces with real élan:
His head moved up, through the hole and into bright white light. He blinked quickly to adjust and opened his eyes. Thorne's last thought, before his body turned ice cold and began to shake quietly, was that he'd been right to be afraid...--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A terrifically stylish debut novel. (Independent on Sunday)
Extremely capable and unsettling. (Literary Review)
A cunning variation on the serial-murder theme. (Sunday Telegraph)
Mark Billingham is one of my favourite new authors. Highly recommended. (Harlan Coban)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The plot 'twist' in this thriller is the most obvious I've ever come across in modern detective fiction. Read morePublished 2 days ago by mawdlin
Whilst I am a lover of this genre I can honestly say that for some reason I have never been attracted to the Thorne series for reasons I’ve never been entirely sure of. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Siobhan
Started on holiday and got sunburnt as I couldn't put it down.
Just ordered 2 and 3 in the series but will read them somewhere cool.
After an initial slow start where I wondered whether it had been worth buying this book, I soon got into it and reached the stage where I didn't want to put it down. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Big Bird
Good read and kept me turning the pages. Will definitely read another of his books.Published 1 month ago by Circe