Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Series #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview


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...
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Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Series #1)

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Overview


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...
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a variation on the serial killer theme, newcomer Billingham's villain doesn't want to actually kill his victims (those who do die he considers mistakes ) so much as induce massive strokes that will leave them cerebrally conscious while otherwise in a completely comatose state known as locked-in syndrome. Combining elements of both police and medical procedural thriller, the novel follows frayed, middle-aged London detective inspector Tom Thorne as he chases down a series of red herrings, gradually becoming more and more obsessed with the killer's masterpiece, 24-year-old Alison Willetts, and the seductive doctor, Anne Coburn, who cares for her. This romantic subplot becomes entwined with the main plot as Anne's colleague and paramour, Dr. Jeremy Bishop (whose amusement with Thorne's growing infatuation with Anne reveals a particular sort of passive-aggressive sadism), fuels Thorne's rising suspicion of him with verbal jousts. Billingham, a TV writer and stand-up comic, manifests a competent enough hand with plotting and dialogue, particularly at romantic moments ( Now, this carpet has unhappy memories and I'm still not hundred percent sure I've got the smell of vomit out of it... You smooth-talking bastard ). Overall, he displays a solid grasp of the form, though not at the gut-wrenching level of such peers as Mo Hayder. Billingham excels in characterization, however, and it's likely that readers will develop empathy for his conflicted protagonist and the compassionate physician who takes justice into her own hands. (July) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
With this first work, Billingham has concocted an intense, creepy variation on the serial-killer theme this villain doesn't want to murder but instead tries to induce strokes that will lock his victims into a perpetual comatose state. His first three attempts fail (the victims die), but he finally succeeds with Alison Willetts, a young woman who ends up able to see, hear, and think but little else. The case falls to London detective Tom Thorne, a slightly tattered middle-aged cop who has seen too much death and finds his judgment clouded when he falls in love with Anne Coburn, Alison's doctor, while suspecting that Anne's best friend is the perpetrator. The strength of what could have been a standard medical/police procedural lies in its complex characters, serpentine plot twists, and dark ending. Fans of Michael Connolly's Harry Bosch and Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse will enjoy Thorne, another flawed protagonist haunted by his past. Already a best seller in Great Britain (and deservedly so), this is highly recommended for popular fiction collections. [A Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Mystery Guild featured alternate.] Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, IN Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Newcomer Billingham debuts with a rote but easily digestible thriller, a British serial-killer tale that, we're told, is already an international bestseller. Charlie is a combination of Jack the Ripper and Jeffrey Dahmer: he's got some pretty sophisticated medical know-how and he's out to create zombies not for sex but for some whacked-out notion that he's saving people. The curtain rises on his first successful execution of a difficult procedure: drugging his victims (the easy part), and then kind of massaging/suffocating them until the arteries to their brains split and produce a stroke that leaves them completely paralyzed, which is what has happened to Alison Willetts, Charlie's first success after several botches and a wake of bodies. Detective Tom Thorne understands Charlie completely. Thorne is your average tough DI with a habit of drinking and a history that needs redeeming. And it's not long before he's all over Charlie. The killer is obviously a doctor, and Thorne's got one in mind, the oh-so-teasingly named Jeremy Bishop. Bishop is a smarmy whinger, and he's an ex-fling of Thorne's new fling Anne, who cares for Alison now that she's an invalid. So Thorne's suspect is also his romantic rival. And, as it happens, Bishop was Thorne's anesthesia man for a hernia operation a few years back, and of course the killer has been sending Thorne smarmy, whinging notes. But the mystery won't be solved unless Alison-whose point of view we occasionally enter; don't worry, she's in pretty good spirits considering her life is now worse than death-regains motor control over one of her eyelids and reveals the killer in what's bound to be a Helen Keller-esque scene. Billingham's prose is livelybut takes no risks, and why should it with a tried-and-true formula? Thorne doesn't come close to, say, Helen Mirren's DI Tennison, but there's more than one wanker and plenty of bollocks to go around.
USA Today
“Who would have thought a stand-up comedian could write a British police procedural as good as those produced by crime queens Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell?”
USA Today
Booklist
“Brilliantly conceived and superbly plotted, with complex characters, deft twists, and an ending that’s both shocking and oppressive. A must-read.”
Booklist [HC starred review]
From the Publisher
Praise for Sleepyhead:

"Who would have thought a stand-up comedian could write a British police procedural as good as those produced by crime queens Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell?"—USA Today

"Brilliantly conceived and superbly plotted, with complex characters, deft twists, and an ending that's both shocking and oppressive. A must-read."—Booklist (Starred review)

"Billingham's flawless plotting and the steadily increasing sense of fear combine to make this one of the best debut novels of the year. Going from 0 to 60 in record time, his next book is on my must read list."—The Rocky Mountain News (Grade: A)

"A new twist to the twisted mind of a psychopath - an exciting debut novel."—Baltimore Sun

"Billingham's turn as a novelist, might be his most successful career move."—Pittsburg Tribune-Review

"A sensational debut."—Toronto Globe & Mail

"An assured chiller. Disturbing and thrilling. . . with memorable characters and bundles of atmosphere. Britain now has its own forensic crime maestro."—The Guardian

"A terrifically stylish debut novel."—The Independent On Sunday

"There’s not much you can fault Sleepyhead on. Disturbingly original."—Time Out (UK)

A brilliantly dark and different new crime novel."—Manchester Evening News

"After reading only the first few pages of Sleepyhead I had my first nightmare in years. I woke up in the early hours shaking and sweating..."—Birmingham Post

"Sleepyhead is the kind of novel that has you checking the locks and shutting the windows."—Ireland On Sunday

"With Sleepyhead, Billingham leaps to the upper echelons of British crime fiction in a single bound."—John Harvey, author of the Resnick series

"Don’t make any plans for the weekend when you buy it - because you won’t be leaving the house until it's finished."—FHM

"Ideal for those who like big goosebumps to go with their glowing tans."—Elle (UK)

Praise for Mark Billingham:

“Billingham is a world-class crime writer and Tom Thorne is a wonderful creation. Rush to read these books.”—Karin Slaughter

“Billingham is one of the most consistently entertaining, insightful crime writers working today.”—Gillian Flynn

“Billingham’s books are as compulsively readable as Michael Connelly’s.”—George Pelecanos

“With each of his books, Mark Billingham gets better and better. These are stories and characters you don’t want to leave.”—Michael Connelly

“Mark Billingham is one of my favorite new writers.”—Harlan Coben

“Morse, Rebus, and now Thorne. The next superstar detective is already with us—don’t miss him.”—Lee Child

Wisconsin Bookwatch
“Intense to the very end, Sleepyhead will captivate fans of the genre!”
Wisconsin Bookwatch
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802193261
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/9/2013
  • Series: Tom Thorne Series , #1
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,089
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author


Mark Billingham is one of England's best known and top-selling crime writers. His most recent book was a #1 bestseller in the UK. He has twice won the Theakston's Old Peculier Award for Best Crime Novel, and has also won a Sherlock Award for the Best Detective created by a British writer. His novels Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat were made into a hit TV series on Sky 1 starring David Morrissey as Thorne. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.
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Read an Excerpt

Sleepyhead

Chapter One

Thorne hated the idea of coppers being hardened. A hardened copper was useless. Like hardened paint. He was just...resigned. To a down-and-out with a fractured skull and the word scum carved into his chest. To half a dozen Boy Scouts decapitated courtesy of a drunken bus driver and a low bridge. And the harder stuff. Resigned to watching the eyes of a woman, who's lost her son, glaze over as she gnaws her bottom lip and reaches absently for the kettle. Thorne was resigned to all this. And he was resigned to Alison Willetts.

"Stroke of luck, really, sir."

He was resigned to having to think of this small girl-shaped thing, enmeshed in half a mile of medical spaghetti, as a breakthrough. A piece of good fortune. A stroke of luck. And she was barely even there. What was undeniably lucky was that they'd found her in the first place.

"So, who fucked up?" Detective Constable David Holland had heard about Thorne's straight-for-the-jugular approach, but he was unprepared for the question so soon after arriving at the girl's bedside.

"Well, to be fair, sir, she didn't fit the profile. I mean, she was alive for a kickoff, and she's so young."

"The third victim was only twenty-six."

"Yes, I know, but look at her."

He was. Twenty-four and she looked as helpless as a child.

"So it was just a missing-persons' job until the local boys tracked down a boyfriend." Thorne raised an eyebrow.

Holland instinctively reached for his notebook. "Er...Tim Hinnegan. He's the closest thing there is to next-of-kin. I've got an address. He should be here later. Visits every day apparently. They've been togethereighteen months — she moved down here two years ago from Newcastle to take up a position as a nursery nurse." Holland shut his notebook and looked at his boss, who was still staring down at Alison Willetts. He wondered whether Thorne knew that the rest of the team called him the Weeble. It was easy to see why. Thorne was...what? five six? five seven? But the low center of gravity and the very...breadth of him suggested that it would take a lot to make him wobble. There was something in his eyes that told Holland that he would almost certainly not fall down.

His old man had known coppers like Thorne, but he was the first Holland had worked with. He decided he'd better not put away the notebook just yet. The Weeble looked like he had a lot more questions. And the bugger did have this knack of asking them without actually opening his mouth.

"Yeah, so she walks home after a hen night...er, a week ago Tuesday...and winds up on the doorstep of Accident and Emergency at the Royal London."

Thorne winced. He knew the hospital. The memory of the pain that had followed the hernia operation there six months earlier was still horribly fresh. He glanced up as a nurse in blue uniform put her head around the door, looking first at them and then at the clock. Holland reached for his ID, but she was already shutting the door behind her.

"Looked like an OD when she came in. Then they found out about this weird coma thing, and she gets transferred here. But even when they discovered it was a stroke there was no obvious link to Backhand. No need to look for benzos and certainly no need to call us."

Thorne stared down at Alison Willetts. Her fringe needed cutting. He watched as her eyeballs rolled up into their sockets. Did she know they were there? Could she hear them? And could she remember?

"So, if you ask me, the only person who's fucked up is, well, the killer, really. Sir."

"Find us a cup of tea, Holland."

Thorne didn't shift his gaze from Alison Willetts and it was only the squeak and swish of the door that told him Holland had gone.

Detective Inspector Tom Thorne hadn't wanted Operation Backhand, but was grateful for any transfer out of the brand-spanking-new Serious Crime Group. The restructuring was confusing everybody and at least Backhand was a straightforward old-fashioned operation. Still, he hadn't coveted it like some he could mention. Of course it was high profile, but he was one of that strange breed reluctant to take on any case he didn't seriously think could be solved. And this was a weird one. No question about that. Three murders that they knew about, each victim suffering death due to the constriction of the basilar artery. Some maniac was targeting women in their homes, pumping them full of drugs and giving them strokes.

Giving them strokes.

Hendricks was one of the more hands-on pathologists, but a week earlier, in his laboratory, Thorne had been less than thrilled at having those clammy hands on his head and neck as Hendricks tried to demonstrate the killing technique. "What the bloody hell d'you think you're doing, Phil?"

"Shut your face, Tom. You're off your face on tranquilizers. I can do anything I like. I just bend your head this way and apply pressure to this point here to kink the artery. It's a delicate procedure this, takes specialized knowledge...I don't know. Army? Martial arts, maybe? Either way he's a clever bastard. No marks to speak of. It's virtually undetectable."

Virtually.

Christine Owen and Madeleine Vickery both had risk factors: one in middle age, the second a heavy smoker on the pill. Both were discovered dead at home on opposite sides of London. That they had recently washed with carbolic soap was noted by the pathologists concerned, and though Christine Owen's husband and Madeleine Vickery's flatmate had considered this odd, neither could deny (or explain) the presence of a...

Sleepyhead. Copyright (c) by Mark Billingham . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 87 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(28)

3 Star

(17)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(15)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 87 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    F## Bomb Interferes with Reading

    The F### bomb comes at you so much in inappropriate places that I had to quit reading this book. No choice but to take it and this author off my list.

    37 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2004

    All around good read

    I liked this novel, though it took a while to get into the rhythm, which typically happens with Brittish authors. The beats just flow differently, which isn't a bad thing, it's just different and I found myself re-reading several passages just to make sure I knew where he was going. That said, this was a good story, good mystery. Though I was positive I knew who the villian was, Billingham kept throwing in red herrings that kept me doubting myself, which was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. I also enjoyed the many voices of characters in the story, from Tom, Anne, Allison, Dave and the killer. This was just a real good read, and I bought his next two novels, which I'm sure I'll enjoy just as much.

    27 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2007

    Can't wait to read the rest of the series!

    I just finished this debut novel, and liked or loved almost everything about it. As the former reviewer said, it was typically British in that it took a while to get into the meat of the story. However, the early chapters were well used to flesh out the major and even secondary characters. That's what I liked about the book - it was so much more than a who-done-it with a twist. It had REAL characters, and I look forward to reading more books featuring D.I. Tom Thorne.

    21 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Not even a free makes this a good choice

    Thanks to editorial reviews and customer saved from another one chapter book archieved one of many now cluttering up the "rooked by nook" shelf lately in their free and under 2.98. Books. Add short story sold as novel and two chapters sold as complete book and a serial section sold as complete then there are all the ones that dont warn of adult themes of grafic violence sex and language. Plus formating messes and just bad writing. ever try to read a novel printed as a poem or verse printed in paragraphs. Are you state taxed for free? I am. Mom

    10 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Hello

    This was a CSI:NY episode. Seriously....can we say rip off.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    310 pages of crap

    Ok, this book was free, it has 310 pages, is the first of a series and the editing was not bad. It was gory, violent, filled with cursing, (f#@k) sex, murder, bias against gays, adultry, drug use, alcholism, no romance, humor or religion. It is an english, murder, mystery novel. The characters are flat and uninteresting. The plot was formuliac and has been over used. This book needed more detail. The conclusion sucked. The best part of this book was the end of the last page, because then I knew the torture was over. This has to be one of the worst books I have read. It is not chick lit. It is more for men then women and for those 18 years of age and up. My recommendation, skip this novel.

    AD

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    Wonderful Find

    I hadn't read any other Mark Billingham books before this one, and it was enjoyable. Not everything is revealed immediately and that makes the read more fun. Tom Thorne is a British detective in the spirit of all the other great fictional detectives from the UK.

    I read it on the Nook. The formatting was a little off in that I would have enjoyed an extra space when character perspective shifts. I was often reading into the next paragraph not having realized that we've changed characters.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    ROOKED BY NOOK

    Agree with other reviewer When oh when will Barnes and Noble stop promoting publication dates that are blatent falsehoods?????? This book is at least 7 years old. Thank goodness it was a free friday book. I have spent 100'S OF DOLLARS ON NEW RELEASES and the books can be 10 years old,,,,,

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2014

    Well-written, well-plotted, suspenseful!

    People die in this book, so if you can't read fiction in which innocent people die because of a psychotic killer, then don't get this one.

    There is a bit of romance in this story, but it's not a romance novel.

    The detective, Tom Thorne, finds himself thrown into an investigation and personally taunted by the killer. Clues seem to lead only in one direction, and his certainty may be his downfall--or his glory.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though the evil in the antagonist made me want to put it away and try to forget what I'd already read. Wasn't going to happen.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2014

    Recommended

    I really enjoyed the twists and turns of the book, although I did have difficulty with following each character. It took me a few seconds before I realized that I was in the killer's mind, or the girl's mind, or... However, this was VERY entertaining and kept me interested throughout the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    Excellent

    I wonder if the haters who reviewed this work had a modicum of intelligence...maybe it was over their head...just sayin'....

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2014

    Aweome suspense with a twist to the ending.

    Loved this book. Its one of those easy to lose you self in and isn't easy to put down. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    check it out

    interesting, but did't keep glued to the book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2014

    Excellent Read

    Being the first in the series it can only get better! I'm looking forward to the next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2014

    Not for me

    It was to upsetting to read so I never read the whole story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Slow going

    I really liked this book but had difficulty understanding which character was narrating because it would jump from one character to another, one paragraph to the next. I often had to reread pages which was annoying. I also didn't understand some of the british terms and references. I assume it was written by a british author for a british audience. I wonder if british readers feel the same way when reading american novels. I would not have been pleased if I had paid for the book, but it was good for free. It is a slow read, but maybe it's just me. Try it for yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2014

    distasteful

    Really, i would give it negative stars if i could. Sex is the driving factor of each character. I found it distasteful.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    language

    swearing

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Very slow and boring

    I just couldn't get into the story, and the characters were so flat and drab I didn't give a hooping funt what happened to them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2014

    2.5

    Had such potential. Not sure if it was the layout within the Nook, but paragraphs blended. Most of the time it took minutes to decide who was thinking or talking. The ending...really? Should have thought that one through more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 87 Customer Reviews

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