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Sleepyhead (2001)

by Mark Billingham

Series: Tom Thorne (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2824814,604 (3.59)68
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.… (more)
  1. 00
    Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: The next in the series
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» See also 68 mentions

English (42)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  French (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Great beginning to a series. ( )
  LisaBergin | Apr 12, 2023 |
Kind of grim; too introspective for my taste. ( )
  Castinet | Dec 11, 2022 |
This was a really dark mystery, with not much in the way of humor or anything positive. I don't know why I liked it so much, and I'm wondering if I should be worried about it. How can anyone like a book about a deranged serial killer who would purposely want to cripple someone so severely that they can't do anything?

Aside from that, the book was hard to put down, especially toward the end. Lots of suspense, and lots of wondering what was actually going on. If you like dark mysteries, you just might like this one. If you want some uplifting story with a happy ending, I think you'd better move on.

I plan to read some more from this series; I hope they are as good as this one. ( )
  MartyFried | Oct 9, 2022 |
Great characterisation but a weak plot made this a bit weak. If I'd read the book I'd have DNF'd, but the audio was strongly performed by Robert Glenister. Guessed the red herring - I'm sure most people would! ( )
  celerydog | Jun 4, 2022 |
Tricky to rate this one but ended up on 2 stars "It was okay". The technical standard of the writing is very high with clear characterisation and vivid description but it just didn't compell me in any way. I would say it was a slog for the most part except it's a very easy read because of how good the prose is. One of those where you tear through the pages but aren't interested once you put it down.

Not sure what the problem was, although it wasn't helped by the amount of the book spent pursuing the red herring who was very obviously so, making our protagonist look kind of like an idiot because he was convinced based on, essentially, nothing. There is an attempt to make "being wrong" into the lesson of the piece for him but it didn't land for me. The final act was where it actually got me compulsively reading to the finish but the overly-theatrical finale felt very out of place and melodramatic compared to the rest of the book. Would I read another? Yes. Would I care if I never did? No. ( )
  ElegantMechanic | May 28, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (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,
Southwark.

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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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.

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