Mark Billingham is a British author who is also an actor, screenwriter and stand-up comic. His second novel, Scaredy Cat, won the Sherlock Award for best UK detective novel. (Mark Billingham Web site|Mark Billingham Wikipedia page)

Books I’ve read by Mark Billingham

Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham1. Sleepyhead (2001)

Back of the book summary: Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She can see, hear, and feel everything. But she can’t move a muscle, or talk….or scream — which is exactly where a maniac wants her. Detective Inspector tom Thorne now knows that three murdered young women were a killer’s mistakes — and that Alison was his triumph. And unless Thorne can enter the mind of a brilliant madman — a frighteningly elusive fiend who enjoys toying with the police as much as he savors his sick obsession — Alison Willetts will not be the last victim consigned forever to a hiedous waking hell.

Mini book review: If you like John Sandford and his Prey series, especially the early novels Eyes of Prey and Silent Prey featuring the evil Dr. Bekker, then Sleepyhead is a book for you. The debut novel by Mark Billingham doesn’t read like a first book. In fact, you wouldn’t know it unless you were told and even then, you may not believe it. Similar to the aforementioned Prey novels, the killer in Sleepyhead appears to have intimate medical knowledge. And it quickly becomes evident to Detective Inspector Tom Thorne that the killer’s intent may not have actually been to kill. At first glance, Thorne strikes me as an uninspiring lead character. However, as the story progresses, one realizes that Thorne has the tools necessary to lead a murder squad and solve a challenging case. And speaking of tools, Billingham also has the right stuff and he’s an author I’ll keep my eye on in the future.

Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham2. Scaredy Cat (2002)

Back of the book summary: It is almost unthinkable that a single maniac would murder two women miles apart on the same day. Yet someone followed Carol Garner home from the train station and strangled her to death in front of her three-year-old son. And, afterwards, Ruth Murray died in a similar manner. The evidence is leading Detective Inspector Tom Thorne to a stunning conclusion: there isn’t only one serial killer on the prowl, but a pair of them, working in tandem. And any corpse that turns up in the future just might be accompanied by a second. To stop them both, 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.

Mini book review: After reading two books in a row by British authors, some of the Queen’s English seems to have made it’s way into my head. “Boy, am I knackered,” I thought to myself the other day after some strenuous exercise. What the hell got into me? The answer is Mark Billingham and his second novel, Scaredy Cat, which features Detective Inspector Tom Thorne. Thorne and his team investigate of series of murders that don’t seem to be connected. But are they? Billingham’s first book, Sleepyhead, shows how Thorne thinks outside the box when it comes to solving a mystery. He continues this in the second novel, as the childhood and hometown of a potential suspect comes into play, while the pressure mounts from the media and Thorne’s superiors to close the case. I can’t say that I go out of my way to read Billingham, but he’s very good, very early and I look forward to his later work as he becomes more seasoned.

Books on the Mark Billingham reading list

3. Lazybones (2003)

4. The Burning Girl (2004)

5. Lifeless (2005)

6. Buried (2006)

7. Death Message (2007)

8. In The Dark (2008)

9. Bloodline (2009)

10. From The Dead (2010)