Mark Billingham’s ‘Sleepyhead‘ was published in 2001 and I downloaded it from Amazon onto my Kindle for 99p. A bargain, considering this was a Sunday Times Bestseller. Crime fiction is not really my thing, but I am always tempted by the blurbs promising thriller reads.
Tom Thorne is trying to trace a killer who has committed his crimes by using pressure in a specific part of the victim’s neck, followed by a couple of swift manipulations, to cause a fatal stroke. He tries to kill Allison Willetts as well, but fails. He leaves her alive but trapped, by Locked-In Syndrome. DI Tom Thorne thinks she may know the identity of the killer, but she can only communicate by blinking one eyelid. By the time she and her doctor have worked out an effective form of communication, time is running out. Thorne discovers the real reason behind the killer’s attacks and identifies a prime suspect; but can he prove who the killer is before yet another mistake is made?
Wait for it. Wait for it. Fanfare. Drum roll. I guessed, I guessed! For probably the first time since I figured out that Pauline was nothing but a common girl in ‘Claudine at St Clare’s‘, I correctly identified the killer before the big reveal. To my mind, this is a Good Thing. Nothing frustrates me more than reading through 300-or so pages of a crime novel, only to discover at the end that the murderer was the chap painting the Police Station fence at the end of the first chapter. Knowing that the author set down a trail of clues which I, the astute reader, managed to pick up on and collate made me feel pretty damn smug. Of course the DI works it all out as well, but I was there before him!
I can recommend this as an easy, passing time on a journey kind of book. You may also learn how to induce a stroke (there are some pretty graphic descriptions), should you feel the need to acquire such a skill. Not a book for the faint-hearted.