Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne, #1)
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Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne #1)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  4,834 ratings  ·  267 reviews
Detective Inspector Tom Thorne now knows that three murdered young women were a killer's mistakes -- and that Alison was his triumph. And unless Thorne can enter the mind of a brilliant madman -- a frighteningly elusive fiend who enjoys toying with the police as much as he savors his sick obsession -- Alison Willetts will not be the last victim consigned forever to a hideo...more
ebook, 100 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2001)
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Tea Jovanović
Sjajan autor... ovo mu je prva knjiga u serijalu... Nažalost, nije dobro prošao kod naše publike, što zbog loših korica, što zbog nikakvog marketinga izdavača, a kasnije nisam uspela da mu nađem drugi dom... Ali ne gubim nadu... Britanci su snimili nedavno i seriju Thorne po prve dve knjige serijala...
Dec 13, 2012 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: Tracy and Chloe
This is the second book that has come into my temporary possession from the 2012 World Book Night (WBN). This one came to me through the good offices of my friend Tracy who picked it up on holiday abroad so it had, since April 23rd 2012, already travelled across an ocean or two. Having read it, my duty is to now make sure its journey continues. WBN is a great way of encouraging people to read and experiment with genre they might otherwise not taste. It’s like Goodreads imposed on the whole world...more
This was my first read of Mark Billingham's novels and his character Detective Inspector Tom Thorne. Nearly ten years on now when this debut was launched and I am guilty of not reading many British authors when it comes to crime and thrillers, I have loved John Connolly and his character Charlie Parker and read quite a few in the series and read maybe one Ian Rankin. I am impressed, the was pace was good and he got me on the perpetrator of the murders I did not see it.This was my first read of M...more
The premise to this is very good. As with most mystery-thrillers, a serial killer is on the loose, but in this case, he doesn’t actually mean to kill. He wants to induce his victims into a locked-in syndrome coma, but when the procedure goes wrong they end up dead, much to his annoyance. Oops, poor psycho. The ‘right’ victim survives in hospital, attached to a ventilator and feeding tube, only able to communicate through blinking, but with a fully conscious mind.

The book didn’t live up to its po...more
Robert Beveridge
Mark Billingham, Sleepyhead (Avon, 2001)

What is it about British mystery authors cranking out excellent first novels? Nicci French, Mo Hayder, and Minette Walters have all waltzed down the pike in the last decade and taken the world by storm. Now you can add Mark Billingham to the list.

Billingham's first novel, Sleepyhead, is about a truly twisted individual, even more twisted than Hayder's birdman-this one's dead bodies are failed experiments. What he's really after, he gets in Alison Willetts,...more

This is not your usual crime thriller as the killer is not actually trying to kill his victims and the women who die are his 'mistakes.' It's an interesting premise because by having a victim who survives with 'Locked In Syndrome' it allows the reader to experience the helplessness victims of crime feel when somebody else makes decisions about the worth and value of their lives. Alison's story is told with humour, courage and compassion which IMO lifted this story above the ordinary tale of cop...more
What woman doesn’t want to be known for just her mind? Most women would bend over backwards to find a man who could appreciate what she was thinking, not what she was wearing or how full her bra was. Being waited on hand and foot doesn’t seem like such a bad idea either does it? People to feed you when you are hungry, bathe you and adjust your bed when the pillows need fluffing? Sounds like the life, doesn’t it? You can have all of this and more.

All you need is a night out, in England, with a cr...more
Nancy Oakes
Talk about angst! Not only does the main character of this novel have lots of it (for good reason, as it were), but just reading this book built up a lot of tension as well. For a series opener, it was amazing. Not a cozy by any stretch, not a quick nor surface-level book, Sleepyhead really delivers a great mystery and an incredibly original plot. Yay.

here we go:
Alison Willetts is a victim of a horrible crime. The same man who killed other women left her with "locked-in" syndrome - in which she...more
Best Crime Books
Mmmm, I feel very torn with this review and I will tell you why. Having never read any of the Thorne series of books by Mark Billingham, I decided to make a marathon catch up session and start with his debut novel Sleepyhead (released in 2001). The synopsis sounded pretty amazing and I started the book with anticipation. The reason I say I am torn is because I have really conflicting emotions. The story, writing and plot was flipping amazing and it took me no time to devour the book. On the othe...more
This is the first book featuring D I Tom Thorne. When Alison Willetts is found in a deliberately induced coma, it seems that her survival is not the mistake. The mistake was the three young women previously found dead and Alison's case the first the killer got right. Thorne must investigate and soon finds himself involved with Alison's doctor, Anne Coburn, despite the fact that one of her closest and oldest friends is his prime suspct.

There was much I liked about this book. Thorne is a typical o...more
A serial-killer mystery with a twist. A young woman is in a coma, a victim of a botched murder attempt committed by a murderer who has already killed several other women. However, DI Tom Thorne realizes that the young woman's survival in a coma isn't a mistake, rather her fate is what the killer intended. The women who died were failed experiments.

This is a creepy, suspenseful mystery, with strongly-written characters. Mark Billingham did a good job of keeping me guessing to the end.

As a genera...more
Unfortunately this book failed to excite me at all. It wasn’t wonderful, it wasn’t terrible - it was just... average. The plot was straightforward and without any complexities, despite some strange elements to the murders themselves. I had hoped that the title character of this series would stand out in some way, but I did not find him to be particularly sympathetic at all. His obsessive nature was off-putting, and it was difficult to muster up any positive emotion for him whatsoever. The cartoo...more
I'd been meaning to get around to reading Mark Billingham for a while, the couple of books I have had been waiting patiently on the heap as I've worked my way through my respective piles of bought and borrowed books .. I so wish I'd moved Sleepyhead nearer to the top of the pile, this is the best British crime-thriller I've read since the Stuart Macbride series!

Superb pacing, totally engrossing plot and didn't let on who the bad guy was until the penultimate chapters. I also thought the insights...more
Dec 04, 2008 Gill rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: crime thriller readers
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.
Flunked the 100 page test. Couldn't see wasting my time on another 200 pages.

I suppose folks who are into this sort of detective novel will be entertained, if not captivated. Not me. I like Sherlock Holmes, and even Elvis Cole, but this guy doesn't connect.
Set in London, this debut novel by Mark Billingham gives an interesting twist to the typical serial-killer theme. After 3 women have already been murdered, middle-aged Detective Inspector Tom Thorne finds a note from the killer on his windshield and realizes, Alison Willetts is not the killer's first mistake. She's the first success.
The first 3 women died due to constriction of the basilar artery. They were [given chemicals] and given intentional strokes. The killer left no marks. The work is vi...more

The first DI Thorne book in the series but one I seemed to have skipped. I started with the third in the series and continued from there but that was some time ago now and decided to read the first two books in the series before reading any further.

The plot was good and the whole locked in syndrome scenario was intriguing to say the least. I liked the passages where you were hearing the mind of Alison speaking of her nightmare being locked in like this and unable to do anything but blink.

Sep 30, 2013 Erin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Michele Bishop; Kathy Lawson
Shelves: mystery-series
Found through 500 Essential Cult Reads, which is odd, because this is a fairly standard police procedural, except, well, it's so incredibly well done. Simon Serrailler you have a worthy adversary in Tom Thorne.

First, my copy - this is a UK series (just like Susan Hill's - I guess all the well-written detective stories come from England) and my copy came from there. Apparently SLEEPYHEAD (the first in a series) is so highly regarded that it was selected as a UK/Ireland World Book Night selection...more
What if the one victim who survives isn't the mistake, but the intention? That's the question that DI Thorne has to answer in this first of the Billingham mysteries. Several women have apparently had strokes, but the autopsies show that there are tranquilizers in their blood, they've been washed with carbolic soap and there are strange tears in an artery. So, odd as it may seem, the goal isn't to kill but to create "locked in" women. Thorne is one of those loose cannons, oh-so-necessary to inves...more
A strikingly original and disturbing plot marks an impressive debut from this author. Billingham has crafted a compelling and chilling read which sets his protagonist, DI Tom Thorne, in pursuit of a cold and calculating killer with a haunting penchant for how they leave their signature on their victims. With the discovery of the last victim still alive in a vegetative state, the awful realiation soon dawns that this induced stroke victim, in what is termed a 'locked-in syndrome', is not as was a...more
An original story line involving characters that I really liked that had dimensions to them rather than the card board personality cliche's that some books have. Yet there was something irritating about this book that I can't quite put my finger on. I tend to read quite fast yet despite really enjoying this book it seemed to take me an age to read. For reasons I can't explain this book couldn't seem to hold my concentration for more than about 10 pages at a time, Especially for the first half of...more
The Crime Scene Scene
Sleepyhead is the first novel in the Tom Thorne series by author Mark Billingham. Detective Thorne is in the middle of Operation Backhand, attempting to catch a serial killer who has been targeting women when one of them survives and ends up in hospital. Thorne becomes personally involved and stops at nothing to catch the man he believes is responsible.

Of course, this book has the well worn cliche of a hard bitten cop who will stop at nothing to get his man no matter what the personal riskRead t...more
With the exception of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels, I'm not much of a reader of this particular genre. I picked up Sleepyhead because I caught part of the TV series on HBO. I wanted to like this book, and at parts I did find myself caught up in the story and really enjoying it, but then Billingham would lose me again. I simply neither believed in nor cared for his lead character, Tom Thorne, and I found the relationship that Thorne develops in this story completely unconvincing. The mos...more
I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this one, considering that the lone copper on a mission style of book has been done to death in the last few years. I liked the character of Tom Thorne, he felt real and behaved realistically, particularly his relationship with Anne. I enjoyed the puzzle element and admit the identity of the killer had me completely fooled. While there was death, there was surprisingly little bloodshed, a rarity in this day and age when every crime writer seems to feel...more
Martin Sharp
I was given The Burning Girl a while ago and really enjoyed. I thought it made sense to go back to the beginning with Thorne, Holland, Hendricks et al and I'm delighted I did!

The story revolves around a series of seemingly unconnected deaths, all put down as stroke victims. Nothing to get excited about until a smart doctor realises that a survivor was deliberately attacked and put in to a coma-like status that leaves her mind perfectly functioning, but her body effectively dead. Locked-in.

A Review of the Audiobook

Originally published in 2001.
Published HighBridge Audio in 2013.
Read by Simon Prebble
Duration: 10 hours, 32 minutes

Mark Billingham's Sleepyhead is set in London and features a serial killer with a twist. Rather than actually trying to kill his victims, the attacker is trying to paralyze them by pinching a spot in their neck for nearly two minutes in an attempt to cause a stroke in the victim's brain stem. The result, if done right, is a person who cannot do anything mor...more
What a frustrating book. At times it was absolutely brilliant with an unusual plot of a 'killer' who wasn't trying to kill his victims but just keep their brains alive. Again it was slightly unusual to seem to have only one suspect in the eyes of the main charcter, Detective Tom Thorne. What let it down for me was the constant chopping and changing of the narrative which became irritating. I had to go back a few times to re-read the last page or paragraph as it had seamlessly changed from, say,...more
Four dead bodies and a fifth woman in a vegetative state. Then the police finally figure out that that is what the perpetrator is trying to achieve. This is the first in the DI Tom Thorne series and to begin with I wasn't overly impressed. But, somewhere around page 55 I found myself suddenly liking the hero and curious to find out what was going to happen next. Decent debut which has made me want to read the rest of the series.
Kathleen Hagen
Sleepyhead, by Mark Billingham, a-minus, Narrated by Simon Prebble, Produced by Highbridge Company, downloaded from

This is the first Tom Thorne book. In this, the first mystery, Tom Thorne is dragged into a complicated game by a murderer who kidnaps females, and then cuts off their oxygen supply so they can’t breathe, and then manipulates their necks to stop their breatheing. Usually the victims die, but in one case, the victim survived and lived in a “locked-in syndrome”, meaning s...more
Linda Shubeck
Feb 24, 2013 Linda Shubeck rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
A terrible book. The characters are not believable. Worse yet, we are provided with the thoughts of the victim (who cannot speak or move). These portions of the book are so awful that it left me wondering if the author knew any women at all. I know, extremely negative but the book was truly awful. I would give it a negative rating in "black holes" (as opposed to stars) if that were only an option.
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Also writes as Will Peterson with Peter Cocks.

Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.
More about Mark Billingham...
Scaredy Cat (Tom Thorne, #2) Lazybones (Tom Thorne, #3) The Burning Girl (Tom Thorne, #4) Bloodline (Tom Thorne, #8) In The Dark

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