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Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham
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Sleepyhead (edition 2001)

by Mark Billingham

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7963311,521 (3.71)53
Member:Belsornia
Title:Sleepyhead
Authors:Mark Billingham
Info:Little, Brown (2001), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Owned and Read
Rating:**1/2
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 (27)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  French (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
The power of a good book is in the effect it has on our own perceptions. Sometimes we are uplifted. Sometimes we are emotionally moved. And on occasions we are left like a limp rag, exhausted by the journey that an author has taken us on, desperate for someone to take us to a place that is light and resuscitating...

Such was my own position after reading ‘Sleepyhead’ by Mark Billingham. This is the first in a series about a detective (Tom Thorne) that, for me, held parallels with the Rebus character of Ian Rankin. But there is something deeper and darker about Billingham’s characters, and Thorne is not your typical bruised-ego-rebelling-against-superior-officers detective.

There are so many well-written detective stories out there, each authentically researched for their era, and their location. Crime and the pursuit of justice is a perennial subject for writers and readers alike, so to a certain extent I was simply expecting a general presentation of another story where the cop deals with a brutal murder while sorting out some of his own personal difficulties. That’s what we all like, right? A delicious marriage between human interest and inhuman treatment. But this one was different: This one deals with a non-murder. This one bites us on the bum when we least expect it, and leads us into psychological territories that many real-life policemen and women must have to face on a daily basis. There’s nothing glamorous in that – and I suppose it is the author’s ability here to keep his story unfolding , while allowing us to realise (with some distaste) that this is not necessarily going to finish with everything neatly bundled up and filed away. Yes, the villain is caught – but that doesn’t necessarily means that everyone gives three cheers and dashes off to the pub to celebrate over three pints and a packet of pork scratchings. Crimes have been committed, and there are far-reaching consequences. We have to deal with that, and sometimes the taste of success can be a little sour.

I applaud Mr Billingham for his clear-cut characters and gritty storyline. The medical background to the case in question comes across as well-researched and presented, and at times I felt as helpless at the audacious nature of the crimes as the particular victim that is the principal subject of the title. This then was why I finished the book with mixed feelings: Yes, it had been an engrossing story, and very well-told, but I also came to the end with a feeling of relief. I had been in a dark place, and it was good to get out in the sunshine again!

‘Sleepyhead’ is a sort of Ian Rankin meets Robin Cook (author of ‘Coma’) crime thriller – highly recommended, and not for the faint of heart... ( )
  AlanVeale | May 7, 2015 |
Another one of these world weary flawed policeman, bent on catching a serial killer. I quite enjoyed it. There was a fair bit of wry humour thrown in, andi did skip a couple of grusome parts, and there was an unexpected twist at the end ( )
  gogglemiss | Feb 24, 2015 |
Warning: this review contains spoilers

****

There's something unusual about several women in a row dying of what appears to be a stroke, especially when most of them do not seem to be your usual high-risk stroke patient. A sharp-eyed pathologist suspects foul play. Then a fourth victim arrives, but she's not dead; she has Locked-in Syndrome. A mistake on the killer's part? Actually, that's what he intended all along...

As far as serial killers go, this one is pretty creepy. I had to skip the more unpleasant scenes to avoid spending more time in his head than was absolutely necessary. (This did lead to confusion when a character appeared later and I couldn't remember where she'd come in. Then I realized, "Oh, that was probably a bit I skipped." But that was on me, not on Billingham.) I also wanted to smack him, because his supposed rationale for locking in his victims was that he wanted to give them the freedom of having to move or deal with bodily concerns -- all they'd have to do is think. Well if HE wanted that so damn much maybe he should have had someone do that to HIM instead of inflicting it on women who didn't have a say in the matter! Dumbass.

The reveal was well done. I did predict a key element of the final showdown, but I did not predict the identity of the killer. I feel like I should have -- it made so much sense -- but did not.

As to Detective Tom Thorne himself, well, I kept imagining him as David Morrissey, since that's who's on the cover of the TV tie-in edition. And I was OK with this (let's be honest, it was the main reason I screwed up my courage and read the book in the first place). The only time it really posed a problem was when the book mentioned that Thorne was 5'6"...David is a good nine inches taller. Unless they filmed him in Lord of the Rings style to make him look shorter?? I would pay lots of money to see that, because it would be funny.

The fact that David plays him also probably cut him a lot more slack than I might otherwise have given him. He is almost ridiculously obsessive about pinning the crime on Jeremy Bishop, which reminded me of single-minded Sean Duffy in Adrian McKinty's first novel featuring him, The Cold Cold Ground -- but Duffy was annoying in his hounding of the suspect, whereas Thorne inspired more concern than anything else. (With Thorne I thought "Don't do anything stupid now dear, you'll just go and get yourself into trouble", while with Duffy I thought "Good Lord you idiot! Do you WANT him to get away with it?? LEAVE HIM ALONE.") It may also have helped that Thorne voluntarily leaves the case for part of the book, to try to get some distance. That little bit of self-awareness is a good thing.

I will probably end up reading more in the series, which is saying a lot for someone who is really not a fan of serial killer fiction. Thorne will help me see it through. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 2, 2015 |
What an excellent read. Mark Billingham is a master of suspense with a little humour thrown in. Three murdered girls, the fourth left in a state of being paralysed but aware.

D.I. Thorne (with the wit of Frost (David Jason)) follows his hunch in which he is alone. The killer is playing a game with Thorne willing him to catch him.

The intricate story unravels slowly and unexpectively. ( )
  greatbookescapes | Nov 20, 2014 |
What an excellent read. Mark Billingham is a master of suspense with a little humour thrown in. Three murdered girls, the fourth left in a state of being paralysed but aware.

D.I. Thorne (with the wit of Frost (David Jason)) follows his hunch in which he is alone. The killer is playing a game with Thorne willing him to catch him.

The intricate story unravels slowly and unexpectively. ( )
  greatbookescapes | Nov 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
For Claire. For everything. You're chocolate.
First words
'Wake up, Sleepyhead...'
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:28 -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 4 descriptions

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