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Summary

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 this error will enable them to track him down. 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.

Listen to our fascinating interview with Mark Billingham on the Audible.co.uk Podcast.
©2001 Mark Billingham (P)2005 Time Warner AudioBooks

Critic reviews

"A disturbing and thrilling medical procedural with memorable characters and bundles of atmosphere." ( Guardian)

What listeners say about Sleepy Head

Average customer ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Kept me awake!

Having been a recent convert to crime fiction through the Harry Bosch series it was interesting to listen to a title that was set where I live in London (no glorious sunsets over the LA landscape for Detective Thorne). It was shaky start but I ended up gripped at this hard-worn, world weary detective who is driven (sorry for the cliche) but flawed (and another). At the end of this story I went straight out and got the second book 'Scaredy Cat'.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Utterly Brilliant

Now here is a book to get your teeth into. Sleepy Head is the first book by this author and a fantastic start was made. The plot is cunning, twisting, methodical and curiously engrossing. I found myself listening at every opportunity I could manage. The characters are lifelike and believable which traits that play into the plot well.

The book was read superbly and the narrators voice fitted the story well. The pace was excellent and the quality crisp and clear, with no changes in tone etc.

I really enjoyed this book, it was a pleasure to hear and I have already set my next listens to pick up the remaining books by this author. I can see me having to bump up my subscription.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Mark Billingham's 'Thorne'

My first 'Inspector Thorne' book and was not disappointed.
I bought this Audibook for iPod to take on holiday for poolside 'reading' but ended up listening before!
But not to worry I have book 2- if I can keep away from the play button!!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not Your Average Crime Novel

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes I would. It's not the run of the mill crime book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The leading character Tom Thorne.

Any additional comments?

The narration by Robert Glenister was OUTSTANDING. I am the sort of person whose enjoyment of a story can be ruined by bad narration. But this reader has a beautiful voice, minimal accent, and he really dramatized the story. Superb. Will definitely be listening to more of his narration.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Book fit for a coma

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A series of disjointed dialogues interspersed with some stage directions and continually interrupted with ghastly music. The book title is very apt as I found it the perfect sedative.

Would you ever listen to anything by Mark Billingham again?

NO

What didn’t you like about Robert Glenister’s performance?

He did his best with a very bad job

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Sleepy Head?

Most of them

Any additional comments?

Only purchased this book because some lady on TV said it was her favourite author. She has my sympathy

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • EM
  • 15-10-18

Brill narrator, rubbish story

Very rarely do I abandon an audio book, especially read by Robert Glenister who did such a great job of the Strike series, but this story was clunky and hard to follow. Found myself drifting off and struggling to concentrate as the author made a poor job at the outset of developing his characters.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling listen

This was a very different book to what I would usually chose, and I found it very compelling listening. Excellent narrative and excellent writing. Fabulous.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compulsive listening

This was a great story made very real by Robert Glenister’s narration. I couldn’t put it down.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good story, next please.

The plot and the story line was written in such a way as to keep me interested throughout. Well done Mark. Robert and the lady narrator do a great job of telling the story, Well done all round. Knowing this is the first of a series of books and is of a certain age it reads well for today (2021) and is not distracted by old tech or other things you can find in some books. The reason I marked it down overall, is for what was considered years ago as keeping interest the "Crossroads music" in between chapters. I think the director/producers of today have learned that all we the readers/listeners want is to story with no need for embellishments such as music. As some say up here, "Geez the Jackanory". Oops showing my age.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • JB
  • 02-12-20

poor audio quality

unfortunately the audio quality was so poor that it was very hard to really get into the story

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  • Virginia Waldron
  • 07-05-14

Riveting.

A great yarn. The depravity of it all is brought to life by a fabulous narrator. Really good fun.