Mark Billingham's Sleepyhead was called "an exceptional debut" by George Pelecanos, lauded for its "strong ... display of macabre creativity" by the New York Times, and singled out by USA Today as featuring "some of the creepiest serial killers to be found between the pages of a book." Now Billingham returns with Scaredy Cat.
It was a calculated, vicious murder. The killer selected his victim at Euston station, followed her home on the tube, and then strangled her to death in front of her child. At the same time the dead woman is found, a second body is discovered at the back of King's Cross station -- killed in identical fashion. It is a grisly coincidence that eerily echoes the murders of two other women, both stabbed to death months before on the same day.
Introduced in Sleepyhead, Detective Inspector Tom Thorne sees the link and comes to the horrifying conclusion that it is not one serial killer the police are up against: it is two of them. 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 while the methods might be the same, the killers are very different -- one submissive and terrified, the other ruthless and in control. 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.
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Mark Billingham began working in the alternative comedy circuit in the United Kingdom in 1987. Since then he has appeared on more than thirty radio and television shows. The Sunday Times rates him as "one of the very best." He now writes for the BBC and ITV, where he has twice been nominated for Royal Television Society awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.From Publishers Weekly:
Billingham's second thriller (after Sleepyhead) featuring London Det. Insp. Tom Thorne offers a twist on the serial killer subgenre. Brooding, melancholy Thorne heads a team of detectives who are alerted to the death of a young mother brutally strangled as her three-year-old son looks on. The body of a second murder victim, strangled in the same manner, turns up the same day, and Thorn and his team surmise they have a serial killer on their hands. The first half of the book deals with Thorne's discovery that there are really two killers at work and introduces the childhood backstory of the murderers. The second half picks up speed as the actual hunt commences. Billingham is adept at creating believable characters with ordinary and not-so-ordinary personal problems, then weaving them into the plot in surprising ways. At times, though, he pushes too hard to make Thorne's colleagues quirky: "Thorne stared at the figure in black fleece, with shaved head and a startling collection of facial piercings. Phil Hendricks was not everyone's idea of a pathologist, but he was the best Thorne had ever worked with." Thorne's gloomy internal musings on death and guilt tend to slow things down, but Billingham's handling of the plot is deft, fair and scattered with enough red herrings to open a fish and chips shop. When the mastermind behind both sets of killings is revealed in a dramatic denouement, readers will give the author his due and settle back to wait for the next installment of this dependable series.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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