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Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne #1) by Mark Billingham



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. When it comes to reading this genre I have tended to lean more to across the shores and to the U.S.A talent of writers, the U.K novels have increased in number over the years since Ian Rankin and Billingham’s and their are plenty of tastes to satisfy. I wanted to get a taste of Tom’s debut appearance before I jumped in to a recent release Bloodline which I received via the publisher’s galley pre-release.
Tom is a DI(detective inspector) who has his own regrets and has skeletons in the cupboard. He’s failed in the past to act swiftly on a case and prevent a murder that haunted him for years that followed it. He has been divorced now five years and finds new love in this story. As he is one the chase of a murderer who’s tends to want to inject his victims and drug them his life becomes more complicated and things get personal on this case. So far he is a clean DI no drugs, or excesses in alcohol or bribes. It’s refreshing to read about my own turf roads and points of interest I know well compared to reading about the states from their writers which I have yet to visit. Just realized that a British TV drama was made of Sleepyhead i am looking forward to seeing it.

“He looked out of the window as the train rumbled across the Blackfriars rail bridge. If it was a different world south f the river, it was one with it’s own dividing line. South-west was definitely the more gentrified, Clapham and Richmond and, of course, Battersea. There were nice areas of South-East London- he was fond of Greenwich and Blackheath- but, on the whole, that part of the city was a close as London got to a war-zone. south-east….. sarf-east London didn’t need coopers, it needed United Nations peacekeepers. At that very minute in Bermondsey and New Cross there were characters propping up bars in dodgy boozers that would have made Slobodan Milosevic shit himself.”

“Margaret Byrne’s house was a five-minute walk from the station. He didn’t know the area well but it seemed amazingly calm and suburban, considering that Brixton was two minutes away. Thorne had been on the streets there in 1981. He had never felt so hated. He and many fellow officers had comforted themselves with the thought that it was no more than police bashing. An excuse to torch some flash cars and nick a few TVs. Events since then had made him realise he’d been wrong. Stephen Lawrence had changed everything.”

“He’d been at many such scenes in the past, far too many, but this was like watching the A-team work. There was a determination about the entire process that he’d seen only once before. There was no gallows humour. There wasn’t a flask of TEA to be seen anywhere.”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 01 September 2011

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