Category: Mark Billingham

Buried by Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #6)

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Teenager Luke Mullen was last seen getting into a car with an older woman. No one can understand why he has disappeared. His father – a former police officer – knows all too well that the longer he is missing, the more likely he is to turn up dead.


Then Luke’s parents receive an anonymous video. It shows their son, eyes wide with terror, as a man advances towards him holding a syringe.


DI Tom Thorne recognises a psychopath when he sees one. And the scene on the tape chills him to the bone – he knows that a child’s life hangs in the balance, and that every minute counts…

Kat’s Rating : 4/5

Kat’s Review:  I am slowly catching up with this series and I feel like the more I read of them the more I enjoy them. This is largely down to Tom Thorne as a character! I love the fact that Thorne is a disgruntled and weary copper that had his own strange personality quirks. In addition I love how his father is still a large part of his life and is written in as dialogue when Thorne is battling with many questions. Since Torne’s last outing which saw him on the streets Undercover, he is being pushed aside hence the move to the kidnap unit. This latest instalment sees teenager Luke Mullen go missing. Luke’s father also happens to be a former Police Officer which makes the case a lot tougher than usual.

In addition to Thornes colleague Holland we now meet DI Louise Porter who makes for some very interesting reading and interaction with Thorne. As usual these Billingham books are so easy to read and seeing as they are set in my neck of the woods, it’s always great to have a sense of familiarity as they are set in and around South London. All the necessary requirements are there with book 6, with plenty of suspense, and drama as well as characters I seem to have grown attached to.

I feel like there is still so much more to come with Tom Thorne and now I’m nearing the halfway mark, I am even keener than before to get up to date and find out what’s happening with Thorne and his colleagues. This is a cracking series and it’s easy to see why he has such a following. Looking forward to book 7 and would definitely recommend this series!

Lifeless by Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #5)

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Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Availability: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Nook and Kobo

*Please note if you plan on reading the series in order, then do not continue reading this review as it will inevitably contain spoilers*

Synopsis: To his friends, his foes and even to himself it looks as though Tom Thorne’s career is on the skids. On his last case he had seriously over-stepped the mark, and now gardening leave has been suggested and all he has to tend is a window box. So when it appears someone is targeting London’s homeless community it seems perfectly natural for Thorne to take a step nearer to the gutter and go undercover amongst them. He blends into the sometimes invisible community easily – too easily perhaps – but the information he gleans quickly proves that this is no random killer, it is someone with a very distinct purpose and a very specific list of victims and only the team supporting Thorne from the outside don’t have the key to motive or identity. Then somehow the fact that a policeman is working undercover becomes public.

My Review: I like Tom Thorne, really I do…but for some reason this latest instalment was slow going. The premise sounded pretty good, but with the recent loss of his Dad, it seems Tom is somewhat on the edge. He is on Gardening leave, but when the opportunity comes up to go undercover within the London homeless community he can’t resist. The writing is fabulous and to be honest this book made me realise just how bad the homeless situation in this country really is. From that perspective Billingham has done a stellar job, however when it comes to Thorne, by the end all I wanted to do was slap him around the chops and tell him to get a grip.

The crux of this latest book is that it seems a killer is targeting homeless people. With the homeless community closing ranks Tom Thorne elects to become ‘homeless’ and befriend some of the people on the street with the hope of getting clues on what people know and have seen. I really like recurring characters and Tom’s colleague Dave Holland is no exception. It seems that even Holland is becoming tired of Thorne’s transformation. The story rumbled along and there were moments that the suspense ratcheted up, but then it seemed to die off and I didn’t feel the same oomph that I did when I read his first book Sleepyhead.

Overall, this latest instalment was a decent read, but certainly not enough to grab me by the short and curlies! I love the characters and MB’s writing is great, I just felt like this book lacked its normal magic, so I will hope that the next book recaptures that by the bucketload.

The Burning Girl by Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #4)


My Rating: 3/5

Availability: Hardback, Paperback, Kindle, Nook and Kobo


X marks the spot – and when that spot is a corpse’s naked back and the X is carved in blood, DI Tom Thorne is in no doubt that the dead man is the latest victim of a particularly vicious killer.


This is brutal turf warfare between north London gangs. Organised crime boss Billy Ryan is moving into someone else’s patch, and that someone is not best pleased.


And when an X is carved on DI Tom Thorne’s front door, he knows the smouldering embers of this case are about to erupt into flames…

 My Review: I have thoroughly enjoyed the Thorne series up until now, however I have to be honest and say that I struggled a little bit with this latest book (the 4th in the series).  The writing itself is still great although in this particular book I found it more difficult to get into the story. When corpses appear with an X marked into their skin, Thorne is as usual tied up with the case. Enter the organized crime Boss Billy Ryan and the stage is set. However, for some reason the booked lacked the spark that previous books have had.

Recurring characters such as Chamberlain and Tughan appeared but I just felt like they didn’t go anywhere. I’m actually struggling to review this book as although it was far from terrible, it almost felt like it was written in a hurry or without any real spark, which is certainly a world away from the usual Billingham style. The chapters flowed relatively well but the overall feeling was that it was failing to spark any real interest, beyond completing another stage of the Thorne books.

I’m still certainly a fan of Chamberlain and hope we continue to see her in future books. However, I was disappointed with the lack of characters featured such as Holland and Hendricks. It may sound like I am being really picky and I promise you I’m not. I’m sadly failing to be all that articulate either, but I think you get the gist. Overall, it seems like this book was solidly written but lacked it’s usual oomph! Having said that I will eagerly move onto book 5 as soon as my ridiculously long reading list allows!

Lazy Bones by Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #3)


My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Someone – a woman or somebody pretending to be a woman, is writing to convicted rapists in prison, befriending them and then brutally killing them when they are released. DI Tom Thorne must discover the link between these killings and a murder/suicide that took place twenty-five years before; a tragedy to which the only witnesses were two small children, now adults and nowhere to be found…How can you escape a past that will do a lot more than just catch up with you? And how can Thorne catch a killer, when he doesn’t really care about the victims?

My Review: Having read the first two in this series in succession, I was looking forward to the third. I really liked the first book, was kind of indifferent with the second and by the time I finished this latest book found myself wanting to get onto book 4! For those that maybe haven’t read the series, the lead character is DI Tom Thorne; a man with a cat called Elvis who supports Spurs and who is obsessed with his very outdated CD collection. I think the majority of fans love Tom Thorne and I have to say that after this 3d book I can see why. He’s a character that you don’t instantly love, but his grim and dark humour, along with a doggedly determined character makes him ‘oh-so’ likeable.

In addition to Thorne I really like his colleague Dave Holland and his friend the pathologist Phil Hendricks. We see Holland battling with his home life and I kind of like the fact we also get background on some of the other characters in a series of books. Both Thorne and Holland are working on a rather bizarre case which some of the public don’t feel warrant that much attention. In this case, the murder of a convicted rapist starts the story off and it doesn’t get much better before too long.

The nice part about this third book is the fact that we see Thorne’s personal life a little more (I like it when the author mixes it up). In addition to the horrendous case he is working on, Thorne tries to lead a somewhat average life outside of these parameters. Of course one murder is not where the story stops and in Billingham style the reader watches as the case becomes more and more complex, and frankly more bloody frightening! I found myself immersed in this book and as I thought I had it worked out. Turns out I was wrong, and it took me 85% of the book before the penny dropped (and only a chapter shy of it being revealed!).

I only have another 8 books in the series before I’m up to date and ready for the 12th in the series due for release in May 2014! In all honesty this series was a slow burner and is right about now making its was up to a rather large blazing fire….roll on book 4!

Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #2)

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My Rating:3/5

Synopsis: It was a vicious, calculated murder. The killer selected his victim at Euston station, followed her home on the tube, strangled her to death in front of her child. At the same time, killed in the same way, a second body is discovered at the back of King’s Cross station. It is a grisly coincidence that eerily echoes the murder of two other women, stabbed to death months before on the same day… It is DI Tom Thorne who sees the link and comes to the horrifying conclusion. This is not a serial killer the police are up against. This is two of them. Finding the body used to be the worst part of the job. Not any more. Now each time a body is found, Thorne must live with the knowledge that somewhere out there is a second victim, waiting to be discovered. But the whilst the methods might be the same Thorne comes to realise that he is hunting two very different killers. One is ruthless and in control, while his partner in crime is submissive, compliant, terrified. 

 Thorne must catch a man whose need to manipulate is as great as his need to kill; a man who will threaten those closest to Thorne himself; a man, who will show him that the ability to inspire terror is the deadliest weapon of all…

My Review: Okay so I know this is only my second Thorne book, but in comparison to the first book this one didn’t have as much, shall we say shine, as the first one. In the first book I was quite gripped, but with this one the first quarter of the book seemed to be quite hard going. The things I love about a series, and this one as well is getting to know characters. Thorne is actually quite a hard character to get to grips with, but I actually like him more for that reason. I’m also quite fond of his colleague Holland, and in this book we see more of him than in book 1.

This latest case involves not one but two killers and the key to it all is what they struggle with. As usual the murders themselves have an air of creepiness about them (which is always a bonus in my eyes) but the actual story felt a bit boggy. I apologise for my descriptions (this is why I am a reader and NOT a writer). Do you know what I mean though, you are enjoying it, but you just feel like its all too much effort?!?

The only other reason I didn’t enjoy this as much is that I had worked the killer out by just after the halfway mark. I know this is sometimes a sticking point for people, and sometimes it irritates me and other times not so much. I think the fact that this story was plodding rather than racing, meant I fell into the ‘irritated’ group for guessing the killer. That aside, there are flashes of genius in the writing and I can see that this series is one that I bet will improve as time goes on. Although this was just middle of the road for me I’m actually looking forward to book 3.

Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham (Tom Thorne #1)

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My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Hardback, Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Nook and Kobo

Synopsis:  It’s rare for a young woman to die from a stroke and when three such deaths occur in short order it starts to look like an epidemic. Then a sharp pathologist notices traces of benzodiazepine in one of the victim’s blood samples and just traceable damage to the ligaments in her neck, and their cause of death is changed from ‘natural’ to murder. The police aren’t making much progress in their hunt for the killer until he appears to make a mistake: Alison Willetts is found alive and D.I. Tom Thorne believes the murderer has made a mistake, which ought to allow them to get on his tracks. But it was the others who were his mistakes: he doesn’t want to take life, he just wants to put people into a state where they cannot move, cannot talk, cannot do anything but think. When Thorne, helped by the neurologist looking after Alison, starts to realise what he is up against he knows the case is not going to be solved by normal methods – before he can find out who did it he has to understand why he’s doing it.

My Review: Mmmm, I feel very torn with this review and I will tell you why. Having never read any of the Thorne series of books by Mark Billingham, I decided to make a marathon catch up session and start with his debut novel Sleepyhead (released in 2001). The synopsis sounded pretty amazing and I started the book with anticipation. The reason I say I am torn is because I have really conflicting emotions. The story, writing and plot was flipping amazing and it took me no time to devour the book. On the other hand I am still undecided about how I feel about Tom Thorne.

As this is a debut, I know it takes time but for some reason I just didn’t get to grips with him that much. He is a D.I who takes his job seriously and in this current book it seems we are getting to know Thorne and the demons that he is battling (due to an earlier case). When Alison Willetts is found alive, following three murders, Tom finally feels like this is the break they needed. Sadly, and one of the most interesting elements of this book, is that although Alison lived, she has been left with ‘locked-in syndrome’. Alison knows exactly what is going on and is fully functional, she just can’t communicate. This in itself made a refreshing change to read about as it’s something that is scary and also something I’ve not read about before.

The other thing I loved about this was that I spent literally the whole book questioning everything. Were my suspicions right? Was Throne wrong? Was he losing his marbles? Who else is shady? Yep, pretty much the standard thought process for many I would imagine. That alone is always a bonus as it feels like you are as in the dark as the D.I. I wouldn’t say this book was particularly gruesome, but there is an element of ‘fear’ about it. You know that shiver down your back type of fear you get? Yep, that one! Overall for the first in the series and his debut, it was a corker. The fact that I am 13 years behind everybody else means I have some serious catching up to do, and I have to say I’m rather looking forward to it!