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Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels) Paperback – 4 Jul 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 1,810 customer reviews

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Paperback, 4 Jul 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New Ed edition (4 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780751531466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751531466
  • ASIN: 0751531464
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,810 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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By O E J TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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?
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