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Lifeless: A Novel [Hardcover]

Mark Billingham

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: William Morrow (2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060841664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060841669
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark humor by a master storyteller Sept. 25 2007
By Armchair Interviews - Published on
Fans of the various BBC Mystery programs will find much to interest them in Billingham's series featuring Detective Inspector (DI) Tom Thorne and the other officers of the London Metropolitan Police Service.

The recent death of DI Thorne's father, combined with publicly overstepping the bounds on his last case, has made him persona non grata around the station house and he's been asked to take "gardening leave."

Unable to sit on his hands and do nothing, DI Thorne requests a job deep undercover posing as a member of the homeless community in order to catch a serial killer. The bodies of three men have been discovered with a banknote pinned to their chests--each one kicked to death. Are these random killings? Or have these men been targeted? The homeless feel ignored by society on a good day, now they have much more to fear than unkind looks and cold shoulders.

DI Thorne must walk a fine line to avoid total integration. He is a man in crisis and the smallest nudge could push him over the edge into really becoming what he is only pretending.

Not just a crime novel, Lifeless is also a look inside a community with its own rules and moral codes. The homeless community is given a voice and a presence in this story, its characters are very real and their stories are heart wrenching.

Armchair Interviews says: With skilled use of dark humor and gut-wrenching tension, Billingham confirms his place as a master storyteller.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing May 11 2008
By Helen Simpson - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Not as good as his first three novels featuring DI Tom Thorne; Sleepy Head, Scaredy Cat and Lazybones. Although the potential was there with the very believable Gulf War storyline it never quite hit the spot. Yes there were murders but really it could have just been an account of what it's like to live on the streets of London - which I have to add, was sensitively and well conveyed.

DI Thorne, who is such a likeable maverick, really holds the story together, liasing between the homeless world and the police. Even so, I still found my attention wandering and needed to re-read paragraphs. It wouldn't put me off reading another of Billinghams books though because I know he's capable of better stuff.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff Nov. 9 2007
By J. Chippindale - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001.
Though still occasionally working as a stand-up comic, Mark now concentrates on writing the series of crime novels featuring London-based detective Tom Thorne. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.

For any new readers who have not read any of Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne books, you are missing a real treat. Start reading them now, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

It would seem, even those who know him best, that Thorne's career has reached it's peak and is now on the long steep slide to disaster. He has always flirted with trouble with his superiors but on his last case he overstepped the mark and someone up in that ivory tower has suggested he take a break to take stock of both himself and his career.

Someone appears to be making a target of London's homeless, so with time on his hands Thorne decides to go undercover amongst them, after all if things carry on the way they are, he may be one of them shortly.

Thorne soon finds out that these are no random killings, they are being perpetrated by someone with a very specific purpose. Then all of a sudden it becomes common knowledge that a copper is working amongst them, not good news for Thorne . . .
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorne on The Streets May 20 2007
By EddieLove - Published on
Quite different from the rest of the series. Thorne goes undercover as a homeless man to catch a killer and work through some demons. Billingham never dissapoints. His books are always satisying and lean. I'm telling you Rebus and Banks fans to get your Thorne on.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Divided Opinion Oct. 25 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I discovered Billingham's books a few months ago and quickly became a fan. Generally, the DI Tom Thorne series has been smart, funny and well written. In this book, Thorne goes undercover as a "rough sleeper" (homeless person) to catch a killer.

My opinion of this book is divided though. There are certain aspects of this book that I really, really like. But, unfortunately, there is one glaring weakness that really, really bothered me.

First the good. The characters in the book are great. Thorne is his usually self and several of the supporting characters are strong (I particularly liked the relationship between Thorne and Spike, a young homeless man that befriends him). Also, Billingham's take on the culture of London's homeless was interesting. He very much makes you realize that they are human beings, just like yourself. Having lived in London for a couple of years, I also liked the look into what was happening behind the scenes in London's west end.

The flaw, in my opinion, is the fact that there is one, and only one, obvious suspect. Early in the book, we learn that the killer videotaped four English soldiers murdering four Iraqis during the first Gulf War. As these books are structured, you know that the police have "met" the killer sometime during the first third of the book. The problem is, there is only one character you meet that could have conceivably been in Iraq with a video-camera during the Gulf War.

I kept thinking to myself "It can't be him, it would be too obvious, Billingham will come up with a twist at some point", but, no twist is forthcoming, and I became increasingly frustrated by Thorne's failure to even consider the man as a suspect.

All in all, a slight "thumbs up".

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