Sleepyhead (2001) by Mark Billingham is the first book in the D.I. Tom Thorne books.
This book is the first book in this series that I read and I was very impressed by it. There is wonderful descriptive writing and wonderful human dynamics and emotions as the case progresses. This book follows the case of the deaths of three young women who are in good health who suddenly die from what appears to be strokes. This causes fear that this is going to become widespread and no one can understand why and how this is happening. But then a pathologist Dr Roger Thomas spots that there is benzodiazepine in one of the victim’s blood samples and writes to Dr Angela Wilson with the information. This letter, which is the prologue to the book, puts a whole new perspective on the deaths.
The fourth intended victim Alison Willetts is found. But this time she is alive but in a state of understanding what is going on around her but unable to communicate. At first the police think that the murder/s made an error with Willetts and meant for her to die but soon matters become complicated for D.I. Thorne who realises that the state Willetts is left in is what the murder/s meant to happen.
Thorne becomes convinced that the person they are looking for is Dr Jeremy Bishop although it’s arguable whether he is thinking this because of the case, because of Bishop’s increasingly close relationship with the woman Thorne loves Doctor Anne Coburn or a bit of both. Both Jeremy and Anne are working at the hospital and are looking after Alison. There was clearly a lot of medical research done by Billingham for Alison’s condition and for the medical aspect to the crimes. Some of it went a bit over my head but it was written so well that I still understood what was happening. I also loved that he wrote Alison very human. I’ve seen a lot of writers write people who are unable to move in a very unhuman way. And the truthfulness of his writing really added to the story and really made more of an authentic image.
My favourite character in this book is a pathologist called Phil Hendricks, mostly known as Hendricks, who has great dialogue, is very interesting and great at his job. He is someone I hope to see in later books when I continue with the series.
A great mystery full of suspense in which I didn’t get the killer/s. It was only not long before the reveal that I realised who it was so that is a good suspenseful mystery indeed. An amazing read.
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