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Lifeless (Tom Thorne Series #5) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Tom Thorne's career is on the skids. Having seriously crossed the line on his last case and depressed over the recent suspicious death of his father, the once ambitious police detective has been reduced to pushing papers . . . and is being encouraged to take a prolonged leave of duty.

But someone is stalking the city's most destitute citizens. Three homeless men have recently been kicked to death, each brutalized corpse discovered with a banknote pinned to its chest. With ...

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Lifeless (Tom Thorne Series #5)

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Overview

Tom Thorne's career is on the skids. Having seriously crossed the line on his last case and depressed over the recent suspicious death of his father, the once ambitious police detective has been reduced to pushing papers . . . and is being encouraged to take a prolonged leave of duty.

But someone is stalking the city's most destitute citizens. Three homeless men have recently been kicked to death, each brutalized corpse discovered with a banknote pinned to its chest. With nothing to lose, Thorne volunteers to try to find the killer—taking to the streets he knows so well from his days as beat policeman and as a homicide detective, but this time joining the squalid ranks of life's rejects. In this harsh and harrowing netherworld, with its own rules and moral codes, a shocking link between the brutal crimes and a fifteen-year-old atrocity could end up costing Thorne what little life he has left.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Billingham stalwart Tom Thorne is back, working undercover to find out why murderous things are happening to the unfortunates of London. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Booklist
“A moody, brooding treat.”
New York Daily News
“a complex crime thriller...”LIFELESS” is anything but.”
The Observer
“LIFELESS is his best novel yet: complex, thought-provoking, moving and, in parts, very funny.... A tour de force.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061874642
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Series: Tom Thorne Series , #5
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 139,730
  • File size: 607 KB

Meet the Author

Mark Billingham is the author of nine novels, including Sleepyhead, Scaredy Cat, Lazybones, The Burning Girl, Lifeless, and Buried—all Times (London) bestsellers—as well as the stand-alone thriller In the Dark. For the creation of the Tom Thorne character, Billingham received the 2003 Sherlock Award for Best Detective created by a British writer, and he has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. He has previously worked as an actor and stand-up comedian on British television and still writes regularly for the BBC. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

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Read an Excerpt

Lifeless

A Novel
By Mark Billingham

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Mark Billingham
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060841664

Chapter One

He woke up in a doorway opposite Planet Hollywood, with a puddle of piss at his feet that was not his own and the sickening realization that this was real, that there was no soft mattress beneath him. He exchanged a few words with the police officer whose heavy hand had shaken him roughly awake. Began to gather up his things.

He raised his face slowly skyward as he started to walk, hoped that the weather would stay fine. He decided that the emptiness at the center of him, which might have been simple fear, was probably even simpler hunger.

He wondered whether Paddy Hayes was dead yet. Had the young man charged with making the decision pulled the plug?

Moving through the West End as it shook away the sleep and slowly came to life was always a revelation. Each day he saw something he had never seen before.

Piccadilly Circus was glorious. Leicester Square was better than it looked. Oxford Street was even shittier than he'd thought it was.

There were still plenty of people about, of course. Plenty of traffic. Even at this time the streets were busier than most others in the country would be during the rush hour. He remembered a film he'd seen on DVD, set in London after most of the population had been turned into crazed zombiesby some plague. There were bizarre scenes where the whole city appeared to be utterly deserted, and to this day he didn't really know how they'd managed to do it. Computer tricks, like as not. This--the hour or so when the capital showered, shaved, and shat--was about as close as it ever came. Far from deserted, but quite a few zombies shuffling about.

Most of the shops would be shut for another few hours yet. Very few opened their doors before ten these days. The caffs and sandwich bars were already up and running, though. Hoping to pull in passing trade for tea and a bacon sandwich, for coffee and croissants, in much the same way that the burger vans and kebab shops had tempted those weaving their way home only a few hours earlier.

Tea and a sandwich. Normally he'd have spent the previous night gathering enough together to get himself something to eat, but today someone would be buying him breakfast.

Halfway along Glass-house Street, a man in a dark green suit stepped out of a doorway in front of him and tried to pass. They moved the same way across the pavement, and back again. Smiled at each other, embarrassed.

"Nice morning for a dance . . ."

The sudden knowledge that he'd clearly encountered a nutcase caused the smile to slide off the man's face. He turned sideways and dropped his head. Shuffled quickly past, muttering "Sorry" and "I can't . . ."

He hoisted his backpack higher onto his shoulder and carried on walking, wondering just what it was that the man in the suit couldn't do.

Return a simple greeting? Spare any change? Give a toss . . . ?

He walked up Regent Street, then took a right, cutting through the side streets of Soho toward Tottenham Court Road. A strange yet familiar figure, stepping in unison alongside him, caught his eye. He slowed then stopped, watching the stranger do the same thing.

He took a step forward and stared into the plate glass at the reflection of the man he'd become in such a short time. His hair seemed to be growing faster than usual, the gray more pronounced against the black. The neatish goatee he'd been cultivating had been subsumed under the scrubby growth that sprouted from his cheeks and spilled down his throat. His red nylon backpack, though already stained and grubby, was the only flash of real color to be seen in the picture staring back at him from the shop window. The grease-gray coat and dark jeans were as blank, as anonymous, as the face that floated above them. He leaned toward the glass and contorted his features; pulling back his lips, raising his eyebrows, puffing out his cheeks. The eyes, though--and it was the man's eyes that told you everything--stayed flat and uninvolved.

A vagrant. With the emphasis on vague . . .

He turned from the window to see someone he recognized on the other side of the road. A young man--a boy--arms around his knees, back pressed against a dirty white wall, sleeping bag wrapped around his shoulders. He'd spoken to the boy a couple of nights before. Somewhere near the Hippodrome, he thought. Maybe outside one of the big cinemas in Leicester Square. He couldn't be certain. He did remember that the boy had spoken with a thick, northeast accent: Newcastle or Sunderland. Most of what the boy had said was indecipherable, rattled through chattering teeth at machine-gun speed. Head turning this way and that. Fingers grasping at his collar as he gabbled. So completely ripped on Ecstasy that it looked as though he was trying to bite off his own face.

He waited for a taxi to pass, then stepped into the road. The boy looked up as he approached and drew his knees just a little closer to his chest.

"All right?"

The boy turned his head to the side and gathered the sleeping bag tighter around his shoulders. The moisture along one side of the bag caught the light, and gray filling spilled from a ragged tear near the zip.

"Don't think there's any rain about . . ."

"Good," the boy said. It was as much a grunt as anything.

"Staying dry, I reckon."

"What are you, a fucking weatherman?"

He shrugged. "Just saying . . ."

"I've seen you, haven't I?" the boy asked.

"The other night."

"Was you with Spike? Spike and One-Day Caroline, maybe?"

"Yeah, they were around, I think . . ."

"You're new." The boy nodded to himself. He seemed pleased that it was coming back to him. "I remember you were asking some fucking stupid questions . . ."

"Been knocking about a couple of weeks. Picked a fucking stupid time, didn't I? You know, with everything that's going on?"

Continues...


Excerpted from Lifeless by Mark Billingham Copyright © 2006 by Mark Billingham. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Alli

    She runs to 'for sale' res 1 as quickly as possible stumbling the whole way. She isn't safe unsless she obeys.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2010

    Pretty slow for Billingham

    I am a great fan of Billingham's Tom Thorne series, but this effort is unusually slow getting off the ground. Thorne goes underground (sometimes literally) as a homeless person to catch an apparent serial killer. For the first half of this long novel, we rub elbows with the junkies and other derelicts of London's West End while Thorne grieves for his recently deceased father. Unfortunately, Billingham spends much more time investigating the plight of the aging and homeless than Thorne does solving the crime.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A fabulous societal issue based investigative thriller

    In London, Specialist Crime Directorate Murder Investigation Team Detective Inspector Tom Thorne is not dealing well with the death of his manic father. His superiors decide he needs time away from violent crime as such they assign him ¿gardening leave¿, which means desk duty ad nausea.-------------- Bored and with too much time to think about personal thoughts rather than cases, Tom begs his way onto an investigation into someone kicking to death the homeless. His boss reluctantly agrees to allow Tom to go undercover as a homeless person though those who worry about his mental state fear he is trying to destruct. He begins living on the street where the cold is unbearable though food is readily available, but the serial killer continues to murder Tom¿s new peers, mentors, and dangerous rivals.------------------ LIFELESS is a superb British police procedural starring an empathic detective who¿s so despondent that the audience wonders whether he will ¿return¿ to his middle class existence once the case is resolved. Tom terrific is at his best in this superb undercover investigative story line. However, what makes this tale so powerful is spin on the homeless as a community with a hierarchal relationships filled with dos and don¿ts. Mark Billingham provides a fabulous societal issue based investigative thriller.--------------- Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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