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(Tom Thorne #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  14,139 ratings  ·  749 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, 432 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,139 ratings  ·  749 reviews

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Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I am afraid to say I DNF this read the character of Tom Thorne for me was too arrogant & pretentious, although the plot had me in it just was dragging a bit, although I was interested if Miss Willits ever came out of the coma that part was interesting but I just thought Tom himself concentrated on other things rather than the actual murders it just didn't go anywhere but you win some you lose some. ...more
Jun 20, 2013 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
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  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
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
Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy Eye
Mar 08, 2011 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
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars, read-in-2012
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
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
Robert Beveridge
Jan 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Complex thriller/mystery with shifting POV.

Detective Tom Thorne is a complex, multi-layered individual. He's messed up; he's normal. He makes mistakes; he gets it right. He's tortured by an old case in which his intuition was on target, but ... that really isn't a spoiler, just background info.

Tom Thorne is investigating a strange series of murders, in which 'murder' doesn't seem to be what the perpetrator's really going for. What he - Mr or Mrs Bad Guy - wants to do is render his/her victims
Linda Shubeck
Feb 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  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.

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
May 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"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
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham is the first book in the Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series. A serial killer has been killing women in the attempt to put them into a coma and succeeds in one case. I had read previous books in this series and enjoyed them and decided to start from the beginning. It was an interesting book but quite a bit drawn out and a very slow investigation. A bit weird in places especially with the thoughts of the victim. Not as good as I remember the other books in the seri ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first in the series featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne.
A promising start to this series and I was entertained enough to want to read more.
The plot was interesting and slightly unusual, the characters were well developed and hopefully this will only improve as I read more of the series.
Jan 22, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
"The covers of this book are too far apart."
- Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
2012 view:
Tom Thorne book No. 1
: Nearly 10 years since I last read it… ooh does time pass! Still a real good thriller with the 'sleepyhead' killer trying to put his victims into vegetative states! DI Tom Thorne is 100% sure that he knows who the killer is… but is he right? Great book, great twists with interesting characters that could be better fleshed out, but still a great story. 7 out of 12

2003 view: My second reading of the debut Tom Thorne book, Sleepyhead. Thorne comes to us with an intri
Jan 16, 2015 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
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Best Crime Books & More
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
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
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-challenge, crime
In this, the first, Tom Thorne novel, Mark Billingham is gently sorting out his characters and where they will go.

Someone is drugging and inducing strokes in women, not to kill them. The killer considers the dead ones failures, but to leave them in a coma.

An interesting concept and the book plays out really well. I am glad, though, that Mark dropped the idea of Thorne mentally talking to the victims. That was weird and didn't gel with the character.

A good read, but by no means the best Tom Thorn
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
Sleepyhead is the first book in the DI Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham. It is yet another British detective murder-mystery series, this time set in London, and has multiple similarities to many other British police procedurals by the likes of Ian Rankin (John Rebus), Stuart MacBride (Logan McRae), Robert Bryndza (Erica Foster), Adrian McKinty (Sean Duffy), Val McDermid (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan), Peter Robinson (Alan Banks) and Susie Steiner (Manon Bradshaw).

Of course the first thing these
Apr 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across a later book in this series on twitter recently and it sounded really good. So for once, I thought I should start at the beginning for once. The blurb for Sleepyhead sounded just as interesting. The phenomenon known as locked-in syndrome is one I have read about before and if I'm being honest its something I find truly terrifying. The thought of being trapped inside your own body sends shivers up my spine. So with this in mind, I figured this book would give me a few chills if not ...more
I thought the concept of this thriller was amazing, but unfortunately I felt the execution was just mediocre. It didn't grip me and I didn't really like any of the characters. A real shame.
Philip Fracassi
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
A fun, twisty, sardonic thriller with a great hero you want to see more of (there's a reason it became a series). This first book is a great introduction and a unique serial killer you won't forget.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5/5 enjoyed this and looking forward to reading the others is this range.
We are introduced to Detective Inspector Tom Thorne in the first book of the series, 2001's Sleepyhead. Thorne is all about his job, an obsession that's left him with a reputation in the Metropolitan Police for being an awkward bastard and someone who it's best not to associate with too much if you have any care for your job. His latest case is a serial killer whose MO is to target women in their homes, drug them and then give them strokes by kinking an artery in their necks. Except the fourth v ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No-one
***** Spoiler Alert *****

I don't usually write spoilers but to be honest this book was that bad it was spoilt when it was written. This is probably the worst book I have managed to have the patience to read through.

There are that many holes in the plot that it beggars belief. It centers around a serial killer who is attempting to put his victims into a state called locked-in syndrome. A rather complex procedure you would have thought, even for an experienced medical professional.Yet the perpetra
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
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN mislabeled as Kindle edition but Nook 2 16 May 12, 2016 02:38AM  

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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.

Other books in the series

Tom Thorne (1 - 10 of 17 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)
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  • Good As Dead (Tom Thorne, #10)
  • The Dying Hours (Tom Thorne, #11)

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