Books Read in 2015 26. Sleepyhead – Mark Billingham

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Genre: Detective, Thriller

Narrative Style: Third person from various points of view, first person from the point of9780751531466_Z view of a surviving victim

Rating: 4/5

Published: 2001

Format: Kindle

Synopsis: Three women are found dead, seemingly from strokes, when a pathologist spots that it may be murder. The next victim survives but is unable to communicate with anyone. Enter Tom Thorne, detective, who quickly realises that this victim is the killer’s one success. This is what he was aiming for all along. Equally quickly, he forms an idea of who the killer is and will not let it go even when the evidence is against him. 

I like to read detective fiction but I find I am often disappointed by it. The first series I liked was Ian Rankin’s Rebus books and they set a high standard, one that is rarely lived up to. I was pleased to discover that I loved Tom Thorne almost as much as I loved Rebus and I decided pretty quickly that I would be reading on.

There are a number of similarities. Thorne is equally unpredictable. He ploughed his own furrow and was not afraid of annoying his superiors. When he decided who he thought the killer was, there was no shaking his certainty. Even when this turned into obsession, the reader stayed with him and I desperately wanted him to be right, even while I knew he probably wouldn’t be. Like Rebus, he was a lone wolf and didn’t make friends easily. His relationship with Anne, his love interest in the novel, was equally complicated.

The plot was also strong. The idea of a killer aiming to leave people in a coma as they viewed this as the ultimate in freedom was as interesting as it was disturbing. Thorne’s unpredictability meant that it wasn’t always possible to spot what was going to happen next. And while I certainly put some of the clues together, I didn’t manage to come up with the whole picture which is always good.

The third person sections were written from a number of different viewpoints and often  used ‘he’ instead of immediately naming the character which added suspense and meant that the reader always had to work to understand who was being talked about. The first person sections from the point of view of Alison, the one surviving victim, were poignant and added emotional resonance to the story.

Overall, this kept me reading and I’m pleased to discover another series that I can really get my teeth into.

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