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Lazybones - Mark Billingham

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      17.10.2011 11:43
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      Can Killing Ever Be Justified?

      Lazy bones is the 3rd in the series of Mark Billingham books. Billingham's book follows DI Thorne as the main character along with various other characters that appear throughout his series of books.

      In this book DI Tom Thorne is faced with yet another killer. This time the situation is slightly different, the killer is not murdering wholly innocent people, all the people being killed are convicted rapists - this book covers the moral dilemma of the police force tracking down a killer that in some respects is doing a favour for the rest of the world... after all, these people are convicted rapists... you meet characters throughout the book that believe the killer is doing the world a favour and other characters in the book believe that the convicted rapists have done their time in prison and have paid for their crimes... either way the killer is still taking a life.

      The main character of Billingham's book is Tom Thorne. A middle-aged copper who cannot seem to leave his work at home. He has trouble keeping a relationship running alongside his work and finds it hard to balance the two. He already has a failed marriage behind him, he lives by himself in London with his cat Elvis. He has a love of some dodgy music (told so by all his friends and colleagues). I really like the characters in this book and like the fact that although every book is a new story, you are still following the personal life of the police officers and various other characters involved, especially Tom Thorne and his gay pathologist best mate.

      The book starts with a letter written to a prisoner who is about to be released from prison. The letter is written from a woman called Jane. Remfry, the newly released prisoner is then found murdered in a hotel room days after his release. Another murder takes place in a similar setting and the connections begin to show. Each victim has been convicted of being a rapist. Each victim has been raped either before or after their death and all the victims have been strangled to death. Each victim has been found to have received a letter from Jane along with some teasing pictures of her. The murderer always ensures a wreath is left at the scene of the crime. At the 1st crime scene the florist returns the call of the killer hours after the murder has taken place (while the police are attending the scene) and this is where Thorne meets the florist, Eve who is his new love interest...

      Running alongside the above story there is also the story of a rape that took place in 1975. The story follows a husband and wife after the wide has been raped and follows the wife having a mental breakdown after the court accused her of lying about being raped. The husband eventually kills his wife and then kills himself... this story runs alongside that of the main story and you slowly start to see the connections!

      Thorne's team finds it hard to feel any emotion over the murders, as they are not exactly innocent men being killed.
      This book is another great one by Billingham, I particularly enjoy that fact that these books follow the same characters as you get to meet each character and slowly learn to love or hate them. Definitely worth a read!

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        01.11.2009 19:35
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        Crime thriller

        Lazybones is the third book by Billinghm to feature the character DI Tom Thorne who is stationed in the Serious Crime Squad. He is called in to investigate a seriesof killing of convicted rapists, hardly a group of victims that you can have much sympathy with however the killer seems to be acting as both judge, jury and executioner and as such Thorne is called upon to track them down.

        There is nothing that particularly stands out in this book but it is a good solid crime thriller that is an entertaining enough read. Thorne is a pretty standard literary fictional character of a police officer, based in London he is obsessed with his work and lives alone. Mainly due to the pressures of work and his own obsessions he finds it hard to maintain steady relationships. It seems that all of the victims have been lured to their deaths after receiving correspondence from a writer called Jane and each victim has been raped and then strangled.

        Throughout the book you get an insight into the mind of the killer through a seres of flashbacks that sort of fill in the gaps as to their motivation to go on a killing spree.

        It is not exactly a big addictive page turner of a read but the literary style is very accessible and I enjoyed it enough to want to read other work by the author, a nice solid crime thriller with a good plot and a fairly interesting central character.

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          11.02.2008 17:09
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          A great, dark, action crime novel

          The press love a vigilante now and again. What's so wrong about a person hurting bad people? Lots of things to be honest. For one, were to do draw the line between who is good and who is bad? I am afraid that the editor of 'The Sun' is unlikely to have a copy of Father Christmas' naughty or nice list. It's up to the Police to keep clear headed in the situation and tackle the crimes in the same way that they would do any other; it is not their job to interpret the law - just protect it. But would they really try that hard if someone was murdering convicted and released rapists? Mark Billingham explores this is 'Lazy Bones'.

          A convicted rapist sits in his cell holding on to the latest letter and photograph he has received off his mysterious female pen pal. The letter promises him his heart's desire on his release. Some weeks later DCI Thorne is called to a seedy hotel room were said rapist has just been murdered. There seems to be a sadistic vigilante on the loose killing released prisoners who have been put away for sexual crimes. Does Thorne really want to catch a person that is arguably doing good? With the help of his colleagues Thorne must fight against public opinion to catch a killer whilst trying to reassemble his sad private life.

          Like with many crime novel series I have read Billingham's DCI Thorne novels completely out of order. 'Lazy Bones' is the third in the series, whilst I have already read the later 'Burning Girl'. What this has shown me is that Billingham seems to be worsening over time as 'Lazy' is far better than 'Burning'. It is hard to believe that the DCI Thorne in one is the same as the other as he has gone from being a great character in to an annoying one. In 'Lazy Bones' Thorne is a hard working police officer who is becoming jaded with the way the force (sorry service) is run. He must battle against his superiors just to get the right to do his job well. Billingham has created in Thorne the typical grumpy, but likable copper. Thorne has a useless home life so it's good to read about a burgeoning romance that appears. This compares well to his determination of catching the killer - both sides of the character are explored.

          I also enjoyed the other characters in the book and how they developed. Holland is a younger officer who idolises Thorne, his wife is about to have a baby so the book explores the difficulties that a man in a dangerous occupation has explaining why he still works there to his partner. This novel also sees the introduction of a cold case specialist who appears more often in later books, she is a female police officer back out of retirement. This means that the three characters all represent a different generation of investigator. If Billingham chooses to exploit this correctly it could be very interesting in the future as they all have different approaches to police work.

          As well as having good characters 'Lazy Bones' has a far superior story and mystery than the later 'Burning Girl'. From the time of the first murder you are gripped and want to discover what happened. To add further tension Billingham has slotted short flashback elements between the chapters that give brief glimpses into who the killer may be and what there motives are. The technique of using past events to reveal the present works really well and makes the book constantly high energy.

          There are some elements that detract from the novel. The first is entirely based on your tastes as a reader and that is the amount of violence. This is not a book that has action violence like in an Arnie film, but one that has dark and disturbing imagery. If this type of work upsets you, avoid. Secondly, there is an issue with the books conclusion, on the one end the action set piece is gripping and well written, however, it is somewhat undermined by the almost lazy reveal. I personally thought that the choice of killer could have done with more imagination. However, even this does not really detract from the rest of the good work in the book.

          Overall, I was impressed with the pace and quality of writing in 'Lazy Bones'. Billingham has created in Thorne a generic policeman, but one that we can love none the less. The central story is a compelling one that keeps you guessing all the way to the end. It is a shame then that the end does not quite live up to the promise of the rest of the book with the culprit leaving you feeling a little deflated. However, compared to the later 'Burning Girl, this book is a great read.



          Author: Mark Billingham
          Price: amazon uk - £5.49
          play.com - £5.49

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            26.07.2007 15:27
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            when rapists are being killed, police find themselves in a bit of a quandry

            Those of you who may have read my reviews of earlier Billingham novels may wonder why exactly I figured I'd give his third novel a go but in all honesty I felt as though I needed to give him a fair crack of the whip.

            Once again D.I Thorne is teamed up with D.C Holland as they investigate a series of murders occurring in hotel rooms. When it turns out the victims are ex-offenders, suddenly the case becomes a little more complicated and the lines between right and wrong begin to blur round the edges. Pressure comes down from above and their cheif suspect begins to be another ex-offender recently released from prison. But is he responsible or could he be the next in line in a chain of victims?

            This time around, parts of the story are told from the viewpoint of a recently released felon and we are given a glimpse into the difficulties of adjusting to a society that has moved on and still blames you for actions in your past. We get a closer look at Holland's personal life and learn a little more of Thorne but still something seems to be missing.

            Billingham has been around fore awhile now and it says something that,untill the last few months, he has managhed to escape my radar. This sums up exactly how I feel about this series as a whole- all of his books are okay but no more than that. Once again I quite enjoyed reading this at the time, but when I go away and read something else I can suddenly see the difference between okay-writing and brilliant, imaginative grab-you-by-the-balls writing and this is not the latter!!

            I'm starting to feel as though I may give this author a miss from now on (which will no doubt be a relief to Billingham fans reading this review) but only because life is too short to be reading thrillers that oft seem a little mediocre for their own good.

            If you're looking for something with a little more meat try Karin Slaughter or kathy Reichs.....this unfortunately is about as good as much of the british crime fiction available at present and that is not as good as its american counterparts.

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            15.07.2004 03:32
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            Lazy Bones is the third book by Billingham featuring Tom Thorne a DI in the Serious Crime Squad. Before reviewing the book a bit of background about the author. Mark Billingham is actually a stand up comedian and a TV writer although there is no evidence of the former in his literary endeavours. This book is a reasonably formulaic serial killer piece of crime fiction however it does have a slight twist with all of the victims being convicted rapists and therefore there is the opportunity to explore the morals of seeking to track down a killer who is removing from society people who have committed violent crimes. Both police and civilians within the book use the phase, ?just reducing the re-offender statistics? in order to prompt a debate on how such crimes can be viewed by public and police alike. The central character is DI Thorne; here we have the standard image of a policeman who is obsessed with his work, living alone in north London after a failed marriage, single because of his work and his own failure to balance his work and social life. It is a familiar character, replicated in other books and TV shows like Morse of an individual who cannot leave his work at the office. The book opens with a letter written to a prisoner who is on the point of release from a female named Jane. A few days later the now released prisoner, Remfry is found murdered in a hotel room. Another murder follows in a similar setting and the connections are obvious. Each victim is a convicted rapist, the method of death, strangulation, is the same, each victim has been raped and finally each had been in receipt of letters and carefully posed pictures from Jane. In addition on each occasion the murderer phones a florist to order a wreath for the victim. It is with the first recipient of this call Eve that Thorne begins to form a relationship. Throughout the book there are also flashbacks originally telling the story of a rape in 1975 of a woman
            by a work colleague, it details the acquittal of the rapist and how the victim and her husband become the accused, both suffering a mental breakdown which see the husband kill his wife and eventually commit suicide, these flashbacks at the start of each chapter eventually move to the future and provide the thoughts of the killer as the story progresses. As the book progresses two themes persist. The first is the difficulty Thorne and his team have in feeling any pity for the victims, it is only there sense of duty that drives them on as the investigate finds one lead after another coming to a dead end. The second theme is around Thorne relationship with Eve and his inability to make an effort, essentially he is lazy with regards to relationships and it is from this that the title of the book is derived. This is the first piece of work that I have read by Mark Billingham. His previous two titles are Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat however you do not need to have read either of these books to enjoy this one, as there is only one reference to these in this novel. His next book entitled The Burning Girl is also previewed in the paperback version of Lazy Bones. This was not a gripping read but one well worth looking into, it had enough in it to keep me wanting to turn the page and start the next chapter, at 454 pages in paperback it is a good two days reading. The RRP is £6.99 however I would certainly look out for this one when it is discounted at your local supermarket or when buying your three for two at Waterstones. I will certainly look to catch up on his previous works.

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              02.06.2004 01:13
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              Should all murder cases be treated the same way?

              Can killing ever be justified? Or alternatively, should all murder cases be treated the same way? How should prisoners be treated? These are just some of the questions Detective Inspector Tom Thorne and his colleagues face in their latest case.

              A series of brutal murders in hotel rooms turns out to be connected by the victims' past as convicted rapists. While Thorne feels obliged to maintain the line that this must be treated as a serial killer investigation like any other, it is one of his hardest cases given his lack of sympathy for the dead men. He is also finding this case a bit of a slog going through all the minutiae of investigative procedure.

              A couple of events soon make the case more interesting, however. Through his investigations Thorne meets a fanciable florist and is soon contemplating mixing business with pleasure. Then a witness who clearly knew more than he was letting on to the police is permanently silenced.

              Lazybones is the third book in the Tom Thorne series, and though I still look forward to the next I was a little disappointed that this didn't quite live up to the very high standards set by the first two books.

              First, I'm a real fan of crime fiction that dramatises issues, but I like questions to be explored in depth through the story, though I don't expect or want novels to offer neat little answers. I knew beforehand that this story was about an investigation into killings of rapists and looked forward to seeing how this issue was treated in the book. In fact, the questions are raised but the social commentary is mainly in fragments of dialogue put in the characters' mouths and the complexities of the issues are not explored in very much depth.

              On the plot development, I don't mind guessing at the ending too much, but I thought there were some clumsy pieces of signposting and moments when I wondered how anyone could be so silly.

              I really like the characters in this book as in the previous ones and enjoy spending time with them. I particularly enjoy Tom Thorne and his gay pathologist best mate whose deliberate attempts to shock Thorne provide some moments of rather warped humour. Thorne is a country music fan and here he keeps listening to Johnny Cash's songs about prison as he ponders the treatment of those in jail, and again, though these things slow the pace of the story, I appreciate going along for the ride the long way round.

              On the other hand, because the author makes me care about the characters, I am all the more likely to get exasperated by them when they don't do what I think they should. It is probably accurate that police detectives find work getting in the way of an entirely satisfying personal life, but I would like to see one or two of the recurring series characters having some chance of happiness. In a continuation of a running character development thread from earlier books, Thorne's colleague Dave Holland spends a lot of this book avoiding going home to talk to his pregnant girlfriend, clearly miserable and feeling guilty and not knowing how to deal with it.

              Finally, the plot resolution in this one was slightly disappointing although it is not possible to explain why here without spoiling the story for others who may read the book at some point in the future.

              If you like intelligent well written crime fiction, despite the criticisms made here, I still recommend this book, but would very strongly advise reading this series in order because of the way in which characters and working relationships within the team are developed. The series starts with Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat. I am eagerly awaiting the appearance of the 4th book in the series, The Burning Girl.

              Book details:

              Lazybones by Mark Billingham
              3rd in Inspector Tom Thorne series
              Published in paperback £7.99 RRP (Amazon £4.19) , Kindle £4.99

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