Mark Billingham, Lifeless

£70.00 £60.00

Mark Billingham is the author of a major British crime series, Thorne that has been televised in 2010 starring David Morrissey. This one of only 80 numbered and signed copies of “Lifeless” (one of his best) in a special binding with an appreciation by American Karin Slaughter.

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Mark BillinghamMark Billingham was a collector of mainly American hard-boiled crime before he came to write his first novel, Sleepyhead in 2001 – surprisingly singled out for praise in 500 Essential Cult Books (2010).   He is clearly influenced by the modern giants from across the Atlantic – particularly Lawrence Block’s Scudder and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. His work follows his own path and delves into darker psychological aspects which are often the domain of female crime writers, and has a gift for finding an absorbing side to his material.

Billingham quickly established a solid following and it is a measure of his ability that he was included in the 500 Essential Cult Books: the ultimate guide (2010) edited by Gina McKinnon: “It is a bold person who would attempt a new take on the police procedural – an over published genre if ever there was one. Billingham, however, takes on the genre,  and brings to it, as writer George Pelecanos has said, a “rare and welcome blend of humanity, dimension, and excitement”. High praise from a high priest of of crime fiction, and something echoed by this reviewer. Read Billingham, and find out why for yourself”.

In Lifeless (2005) London policeman DI Tom Thorne returns to the force after his father’s death.  The setting on the streets and inKarin Slaughter the shelters and doss house is not for everyone.  You had best had read some of the other books before starting this one.  Nevertheless, Barry Forshaw’s  The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction (2007) selected this novel as a standout DI Tom Thorne novel.  Billingham is now a highly rated exponent of British hard-edged crime. Karin Slaughter, best selling crime and suspense writer from America was delighted to write an appreciation of Billingham’s work to date.

5.00 out of 5

2 reviews for Mark Billingham, Lifeless

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rating by “The Observer” and the “Birmingham Post” on April 3, 2012 :

    “Lifeless is his best novel yet: complex, thought-provoking, moving and, in parts, very funny. With each novel, Billingham takes us deeper into the personality of Thorne. The result in Lifeless is something of a tour de force.” The Observer
    “Lifeless is moving, chilling, exciting and brilliantly atmospheric.” The Times
    “Lifeless is very good indeed, possibly the best to date in his series. Billingham creates truly memorable characters which linger long after the plot of stunning topicality has reached its conclusion.” The Birmingham Post.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Yvonne Klein on May 31, 2012 :

    Yvonne Klein,

    In his previous four cases, London police detective Tom Thorne has had the very bad luck to be confronted by the most horrific (and inventive) serial murders the city can produce. Now he is very close to being burnt out, pushed to the edge by what he has had to deal with and by his guilt over his father’s death in a house fire, a fire that might conceivably have been set as revenge against Thorne himself.
    Tom’s superiors view him with alarm and recommend he take gardening leave, a peculiar suggestion to a cop who doesn’t even have a potted plant to call his own. But a serial killer seems once more to be on the loose in London, this time targeting homeless men, brutally killing them and leaving a twenty pound note pinned contemptuously to their bodies.
    The investigation is going nowhere, especially since rumour on the street has it that a policeman is involved. The homeless, never exactly forthcoming, are even less eager to cooperate with the cops than usual. Thorne talks his bosses into letting him go undercover on the streets to see if he can find out what, if anything, connects the victims to one another, thus providing a possible lead to the murderer himself.
    What ensues is, to some degree, a double investigation, since Thorne is not only of dubious repute among the brass, but also has to remain effectively outside police circles to maintain his cover. For much of the book, he learns a good deal more about life on the London streets than he does about the identity of the murderer. It is a life he finds, well, congenial is putting it too strongly, but at least more than bearable.
    Unlike some policeman, Thorne is oddly tolerant of the excesses and illegal activities of those he meets while sleeping rough and as a result, these characters emerge as real individuals, not sociological clichés. Thorne indeed becomes so involved with a few of them that some of the suspense in the book is generated by the reader’s concern about whether Thorne will go back to his ordinary life when the case is solved or simply remain curled up in his favourite doorway off the Strand. In the end, both Thorne’s line of inquiry and the official police investigation come together in a climax which is at once horrific and eerily reflective of the present moment.
    LIFELESS marks a turn in the development of this series, which had previously remained largely within the primary domain of the serial killer novel, psychopathic psychology. There is a broader social theme here and the turn is a welcome one, as it provides greater opportunities to develop Thorne’s character as well as to connect crime to its social context. LIFELESS is very highly recommended.

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