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by Mark Billingham
Time Warner UK, July 2002
422 pages
ISBN: 0066212995

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a stroke, deliberately brought on by her attacker. She is completely aware, but totally paralysed, unable to communicate. The police believe that the killer has made his first mistake in leaving her alive, but they soon come to realise that it is the dead victims who were the mistakes. Can DI Tom Thorne track down the killer before he attacks again?

When I came to read 'Sleepyhead', it was almost with trepidation. It was a year after its original release and it had had (almost) nothing but rave reviews. Would I like it as much as everyone else? The answer is a resounding 'yes' and 'Sleepyhead' is a novel that I finished in two sittings, hooked by an interesting, exciting and innovative plot.

Billingham has created some powerful characters. The 'haunted' DI Thorne could be seen as somewhat of a steroetype, but he fails to fall into this trap and combines the dark plot with the character's humour to provide originality. Light relief is also provided through the wry comments of Alison, as the reader is permitted into her head, to show the Hell in which the killer had placed her. This provides some relief from the dark atmosphere as Thorne desperately tries to prove the case against his suspect.

The novel contains revelations about the killer very early on and Thorne's pursuit of his man is dogged, to say the least. I was expecting some form of twist throughout, and Billingham does not fail to disappoint. Overall, this is a fast-paced, exciting novel that will grab you around the neck and will not let go until the very last page. A great debut and I look forward to reading more.

The alt.books.dean-koontz FAQ can be found at: http://www.hildbede.freeserve.co.uk/faq.htm

This review is based on the UK paperback version.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, August 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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