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Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham

Sleepyhead (edition 2001)

by Mark Billingham

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966398,947 (3.68)61
Authors:Mark Billingham
Info:Little, Brown (2001), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Owned and Read
Tags:fiction, crime, uk, london, read 2012

Work details

Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham

  1. 00
    Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: The next in the series

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English (33)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  French (1)  All (39)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
This is the first book in the Tom Thorne police procedural series. It is competently written but very, very formulaic. Thorne (and the author) observe this at various times, but that doesn't save it from feeling as if multiple boxes are being ticked. The main twist is that the serial killer doesn't want to kill all these women, he wants to leave them comatose and suffering from locked-in syndrome, but when he fails to pull that off they die. One victim has survived and she is one of the multiple POVs in the novel. We get Thorne, his sort-of love interest, the killer, and the surviving victim. Thorne is traumatized by an old case, divorced, and drinks a lot. There is less procedure than personal stuff, especially as the story progresses. The giant red herring may or may not be a red herring (I wasn't sure for a while even though the prime suspect seemed to have a strong alibi).

There are many deaths, not just young women, but all women. The serial killer winds up being kind of deranged and having a plausible backstory and motive but a totally implausible ability to carry out his plans.

I'm just very tired of women in jeopardy stories, especially when we spend so much time in an all-male, all-white world and the women seem to exist primarily to service the psychological and physical needs of the men. Enough already. ( )
1 vote Sunita_p | Dec 22, 2016 |
A great disappointment! ( )
  Andrew-theQM | Jun 20, 2016 |
From Amazon:

His first three victims ended up dead. His fourth was not so fortunate... Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a stroke, deliberately induced by a skilful manipulation of pressure points on the head and neck. She can see, hear and feel and is aware of everything going on around her, but is completely unable to move or communicate. Her condition is called Locked-In Syndrome. In leaving Alison Willetts alive, the police believe the killer made his first mistake. Then D.I. Tom Thorne discovers the horrifying truth; it isn’t Alison who is the mistake, it’s the three women already dead. "An appropriate margin of error" is how their killer dismisses them, and Thorne knows they are unlikely to be the last. For the killer is smart, and he’s getting his kicks out of toying with Thorne as much as he is pursuing his sick fantasy. Thorne knows immediately he’s not going to catch the killer with simple procedure. But with little more than gut instinct and circumstantial evidence to damn his chief suspect, anesthetist Jeremy Bishop, his pursuit of him is soon bordering on the unprofessional. Especially considering his involvement with Anne Coburn, Alison’s doctor and Jeremy’s close friend. Thorne must find a man whose agenda is terrifyingly unique, and Alison, the one person who holds the key to the killer’s identity, is unable to speak...

My Thoughts:

In spite of an interesting book description...I personally thought it was middle of the road. I listened to the book read by by Simon Prebble and wasn't especially impressed with his performance...however in all fairness to Mr. Prebble...it could have been the style of the writing. Those that had it in print version have said they were't especially impressed with the story so it wasn't just the narrator. There is a huge amount of British slang used throughout the book that gives it an authentic feel but is so easy to loose the American listener. This book was very much like a favorite blanket that is coming undone. There were so many strings and characters feelings that really did nothing to add to the plot. I don't care how the main character felt about the loving couple he saw walking in the park that had nothing to do with the story. Too many details. I thought in the end the basic plot was good... there was just too much padding. I would have to give the plot 3 stars but the books's execution wouldn't rise above 2.5 stars.
( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
I found the writing style a little awkward at times and find that I had to read slowly in order to concentrate on what the writer was trying to convey. The characters were all unlikeable and the police and doctors in the story were all unprofessional. The plot was good but the novel would be better if executed by a better writer. Not much suspension until the very end which had a good twist and a surprise. I will probably not be reading any more of Billingham's books as there are far better writers with far better books out there to read. ( )
  EadieB | Jan 19, 2016 |
We are introduced to Detective Inspector Tom Thorne in the first book of the series, 2001's Sleepyhead. Thorne is all about his job, an obsession that's left him with a reputation in the Metropolitan Police for being an awkward bastard and someone who it's best not to associate with too much if you have any care for your job. His latest case is a serial killer whose MO is to target women in their homes, drug them and then give them strokes by kinking an artery in their necks. Except the fourth victim, Alison Willetts, has survived the procedure and is currently hooked up to a ventilator in hospital, unable to speak or move, a casualty of locked-in syndrome. Thorne finds a note underneath his car windshield wiper from the killer, explaining "practice makes perfect". Thorne now realizes that Alison Willetts wasn't a mistake, she was the first success.

I understand there's a TV series based on these novels (currently twelve) so maybe it translates better in film. I didn't care of Thorne, who I thought selfish and manipulative. I don't plan to read any more in the series, unless they fit in with a challenge I'm completing. I didn't care for any of the characters, other than Alison, who whose thoughts we hear at the end of each chapter. The book was difficult to follow and it was a chore to finish, especially when I have much more interesting books in my TBR pile.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Billingham takes risks in making his cop hero, Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, so pigheaded and off track for most of the investigation, though it's easy to imagine Thorne becoming a companionable protagonist... and Billingham's control of character and plot becoming more sure. He's off to a remarkable start.
added by Shortride | editSalon, Charles Taylor (Nov 14, 2002)
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For Claire. For everything. You're chocolate.
First words
'Wake up, Sleepyhead...'
Dr Angela Wilson,
HM Coroner,

26 June 2000

Dear Angela,

Following our recent telephone conversation, I write to summarise certain concerns which you might like to include as an addendum to my post-mortem report (PM2698/RT) on Ms Susan Carlish, a twenty-six-year-old stroke victim discovered at home on 15 June.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0751531464, Paperback)

It's rare for a young woman to die from a stroke and when three such deaths occur in short order it starts to look like an epidemic. Then a sharp pathologist notices traces of benzodiazepine in one of the victim's blood samples and just traceable damage to the ligaments in her neck, and their cause of death is changed from 'natural' to murder. The police aren't making much progress in their hunt for the killer until he appears to make a mistake: Alison Willetts is found alive and D.I. Tom Thorne believes the murderer has made a mistake, which ought to allow them to get on his tracks. But it was the others who were his mistakes: he doesn't want to take life, he just wants to put people into a state where they cannot move, cannot talk, cannot do anything but think. When Thorne, helped by the neurologist looking after Alison, starts to realise what he is up against he knows the case is not going to be solved by normal methods - before he can find out who did it he has to understand why he's doing it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:51 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The police aren't making much progress in their hunt for a killer until he appears to make a mistake: Alison Willetts is found alive and D.I. Tom Thorne believes the murderer has made a mistake, which ought to allow them to get on his tracks. But it was the others who were his mistakes: he doesn't want to take life, he just wants to put people into a state where they cannot move, cannot talk, cannot do anything but think.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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Average: (3.68)
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