Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne, #1)” as Want to Read:
Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne #1)

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,798 Ratings  ·  469 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
Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Avon Books (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sleepyhead, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sleepyhead

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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 liked it
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
Oct 26, 2011 Lou rated it really liked it
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
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
Mar 13, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Robert Beveridge
Jan 22, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished, cle-pub-lib
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,
Jun 24, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Linda Shubeck
Feb 24, 2013 Linda Shubeck rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 26, 2015 Vicii rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say firstly that I got this copy free from Amazon (as part of a promotion and this was my choice from 5 options). I'm so pleased that I choose this book as it's just my kind of read when it comes to detective novels.

It had me guessing right to the end as to who the "killer" was and I did the usual of changing my mind a couple of times, but essentially I was convinced that same as Thorne... good job I'm not a detective in real life!

I'll definitely put Mark Billingham on my "follow autho
Jun 10, 2014 Dipanjan rated it it was ok
"Sleepyhead" was first experience with the work of Mr. Billingham. This book introduced me to Tom Thorne, a DI in London. It's a serial killer novel. The twist promised was what had made me buy this book. Rather than actually trying to kill his victims, the perpetrator is trying to paralyse 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. If done perfectly, the victim cannot do anything more than blink even though their brai ...more
Best Crime Books & More
Feb 18, 2014 Best Crime Books & More rated it really liked it
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
Whilst I am a lover of this genre I can honestly say that for some reason I have never been attracted to the Thorne series for reasons I’ve never been entirely sure of. In fact, had it not been for the fact that a family member gave me the book to read I probably never would have picked up the book. I know that there is a rather large Thorne fan base out there, but for me, after reading it, I can honestly say that I am not part of that group.

When offered the book by aforementioned family member
Apr 07, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it
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
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
Martin Sharp
Apr 02, 2012 Martin Sharp rated it it was amazing
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.

Joe Stamber
Jun 05, 2015 Joe Stamber rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, read-2015
A new series and a new protagonist for me. I've seen Mark Billingham's novels in the stores and decided to give him a try when "Sleepyhead" came up as a Kindle Daily Deal. I wasn't disappointed. Tom Thorne is a great character. Sure, the damaged cop with a ton of baggage has been done before, but not always as well as this. Thorne is endearingly human, with all the faults and weaknesses that go with it. The plot is fascinating and Thorne has an able supporting cast. I was pleased to see that the ...more
Gill's Great Book Escapes
Dec 04, 2008 Gill's Great Book Escapes rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 09, 2014 Ron rated it did not like it
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.
May 24, 2013 Christine rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago and it was one of those books that stays with you. Mark Billingham is a fantastic author and has created a brilliant detective in Tom Thorne.
Jul 25, 2011 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 31, 2012 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, crime

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 it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 21, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Linda  Branham Greenwell
Jul 15, 2012 Linda Branham Greenwell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-crime
This is my first Mark Billingham novel - now I have a whole new author to read :)
I am now reading LazyBones - guess I need to order the next books in the series.
Let's see... the serial killer in this book doesn't actually want to kill his victims, he wants to make them aware - but unable to respond - it is called a locked-in state - a new term I learned in the book. Allison is the girl who is in a "locked-in" state - the only thing she is able to do is to blink her eyes - all of the others victi
Jul 03, 2015 Tam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sleepyhead DI Tom Thorne joins a taskforce set up to investigate the murders of several young women who, despite having no risk factors, have died of strokes before being thoroughly washed and then dumped. A terrifying and riveting plot, one that will definitely stay with me for awhile. Although I really enjoyed it, I have to say that the sudden switching between characters with no warning dulled my enjoyment a bit. Although I got used to it after awhile, it continually jarred me from the book. ...more
Aug 16, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
High 4. 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 ...more
Mar 25, 2015 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, crime
This is a really good enjoyable crime thriller that has some good twists and turns although nothing particularly unique or stand out (this is not necessarily a bad thing mind). Tom Thorne is the lead detective on a murder investigation that throws up plenty of questions about the killer's real motives, especially when one of his victims survives but is trapped inside her own body. The case also gives Thorne plenty of flashbacks to a case long past that has haunted him in the intervening years. O ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Sabrina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thought this was going to be much better than it was as the description looked promising. Whilst the storyline itself was good the reading was so slow and it felt like I took months to read this novel rather than just over a week. That said I don't normally take this long reading a 400-ish page book. Don't think I'll invest in anymore Thorne novels. I prefer fast page turners that keep me reading to the end in one or two sittings.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Broken Skin (Logan McRae, #3)
  • The Last 10 Seconds (Tina Boyd #5)
  • Black Dog (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #1)
  • Dover Beach (The Last P.I., #1)
  • Fever of the Bone (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #6)
  • The Death Collectors (Carson Ryder, #2)
  • Scavenger Hunt (A Finny Aletter Mystery, Book 1)
  • The Crime of Julian Wells
  • Play Dead
  • Head To Head (Claire Morgan #1)
  • Dry Bones That Dream (Inspector Banks, #7)
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...

Other Books in the Series

Tom Thorne (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • Scaredy Cat (Tom Thorne, #2)
  • Lazybones (Tom Thorne, #3)
  • The Burning Girl (Tom Thorne, #4)
  • Lifeless (Tom Thorne, #5)
  • Buried (Tom Thorne, #6)
  • Death Message (Tom Thorne, #7)
  • Bloodline (Tom Thorne, #8)
  • From the Dead (Tom Thorne, #9)
  • Good As Dead (Tom Thorne, #10)
  • The Dying Hours (Tom Thorne, #11)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »