Sleepyhead: A Tom Thorne Novel by Mark Billingham -Audiobook CD Review

sleepyhead audiobook mark billingham

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A Tom Thorne Novel

by Mark Billingham


 Loved this book!!! A powerful and intense psychological thriller. 

One of UK’s most popular crime writers, Mark Billingham is new to me, and from what I have learned new in the US. Sleepyhead is the first book in one of many books in the Tom Thorne DI series. In Sleepyhead, Thorne is on the hunt for a psychopath who has left a string of women dead and one perfectly the way he wants her. You see Alison Willetts is alive, but wishing she was dead, as she is now frozen in the medical condition referred to as locked-in syndrome. Where Alison is awake, can hear, but cannot move or communicate verbally due to a complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body, except for her eyes.

Obviously, Tom Thorne is the main character in this book, then we also have Alison’s doctor and Thorne’s love interest, Anne Coburn. While Anne Coburn works with Alison to get her to communicate, Thorne pursues his instincts on who he thinks the killer might be. It turns out anesthetist Jeremy Bishop, Anne’s friend with past benefits is his main suspect. But is Bishop really the killer who is also getting his thrills from mocking Throne? Or is it someone else?

There was nothing about this audiobook I didn’t like. The characters are amazing, the suspense in this book is intense. Thorne leads you in one direction as he pursues one suspect. While you grit your teeth waiting for his suspect to mess up and get caught, your brain is also hooked up on the nuances of other characters, as you try to guess who the killer might be. 

Not only is Sleepyhead a psychological thriller, Billingham also brings to light the condition of locked-in-syndrome, which is a real condition with no medical cure. Some possible causes for this paralysis include disease, stroke, brain injury or as in Alison’s case a medication overdose.

I gave this book a 5***** Review.


Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a stroke, deliberately induced by a skilful manipulation of pressure points on the head and neck. She can see, hear and feel and is aware of everything going on around her, but is completely unable to move or communicate. Her condition is called Locked-In Syndrome. In leaving Alison Willetts alive, the police believe the killer made his first mistake.

Then D.I. Tom Thorne discovers the horrifying truth; it isn’t Alison who is the mistake, it’s the three women already dead. “An appropriate margin of error” is how their killer dismisses them, and Thorne knows they are unlikely to be the last. For the killer is smart, and he’s getting his kicks out of toying with Thorne as much as he is pursuing his sick fantasy. Thorne knows immediately he’s not going to catch the killer with simple procedure. But with little more than gut instinct and circumstantial evidence to damn his chief suspect, anesthetist Jeremy Bishop, his pursuit of him is soon bordering on the unprofessional. Especially considering his involvement with Anne Coburn, Alison’s doctor and Jeremy’s close friend.

  • Series: Thomas Thorne (Book 1)
  • Audio CD: 630 pages
  • Publisher: HighBridge Company; Unabridged; 10.5 hours edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English

About the author:

mark billingham


Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers. A former actor, television writer and stand-up comedian, his series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award as well as the Sherlock Award for Best British Detective and been nominated for seven CWA Daggers. His standalone thriller IN THE DARK was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, SLEEPYHEAD was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. Each of his novels has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

A television series based on the Thorne novels is screening in the USA on Encore in June 2012, starring David Morrissey (from “The Walking Dead”) as Tom Thorne and series based on the standalone thrillers RUSH OF BLOOd and IN THE DARK are currently in development with the BBC.

A thank you goes out to the  HighBridge Company. A copy of this audiobook was received. Opinions expressed above are solely my own.

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  1. says

    I don’t think I could listen to a book. I need to actually read it and process it. Listening just feels like I’m being told a bedtime story… and doesn’t activate my imagination. But it’s good for people who have bad eyesight and all and can’t really read the book itself :) Sounds like a good one though.
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  2. says

    I’ll admit, I skipped down to the end with all of the raves and credits, because I’m one of those who does not like to know what a book is about before I pick it up! Crazy, I know! :) I’ll have to grab a copy of this, though! I haven’t had anything good to read in a long time. Thanks for posting!