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Publisher's Summary

Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a stroke, deliberately induced by a skilful manipulation of pressure points on the head and neck. She can see, hear and feel and is aware of everything going on around her, but is completely unable to move or communicate. Her condition is called Locked-In Syndrome.
In leaving Alison Willetts alive, the police believe the killer made his first mistake.
Then D.I. Tom Thorne discovers the horrifying truth; it isn't Alison who is the mistake, it's the three women already dead. "An appropriate margin of error" is how their killer dismisses them, and Thorne knows they are unlikely to be the last. For the killer is smart, and he's getting his kicks out of toying with Thorne as much as he is pursuing his sick fantasy. Thorne knows immediately he's not going to catch the killer with simple procedure. But with little more than gut instinct and circumstantial evidence to damn his chief suspect, anesthetist Jeremy Bishop, his pursuit of him is soon bordering on the unprofessional. Especially considering his involvement with Anne Coburn, Alison's doctor and Jeremy's close friend.
©2001 Original material 2001 Mark Billingham. Recorded by arrangement with Atlantic Monthly Press, a division of Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (P)2013 2013 HighBridge Company
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Critic Reviews

'Who would have thought a stand-up comedian could write a British police procedural as good as those produced by crime queens Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell?" ( USA Today)
"A terrifically stylish debut novel." ( The Independent On Sunday)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Glenn on 01-30-14

Simon Prebble, the master narrator

The book is good, the story is good but then again, when Simon Prebble narrates, I could listen to the DMV booklet or the medical encyclopedia. He is that good. Of course there is George Guidall and Simon Vance and John Lee and they are all awesome narrators but Simon Prebble? He is magical and, I found out, always narrates good to excellent books. So you can't go wrong choosing one of the hundreds of stories he has narrated.
Thank you for them all, Simon Prebble.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Kathi on 02-13-14

Sort of a dark tale

Tom Thorne is a detective who is on the case of the strange murders of several women, only to quickly learn that the murders were not deliberate but accidental. The women were not intended to be murdered--but rather to have been robbed of their ability to have any control over their bodies or actions--and live only in their minds. The suspect believes this would provide the ability to have ultimate power over them. One woman has survived (as intended by the suspect), in a neurological state of stroke--living in the horror of awareness of everything, but inability to communicate what is in her thoughts and unable to move at all.

Detective Thorne believes he knows who has sufficient medical knowledge to know exactly how to manipulate this physical state in a person--and that the women who died were just his experiments on the way toward perfecting this actual goal. But he is unable to convince anyone around him of his theory--so has to go it alone.

One interesting thing about this book, is that the story is told through the perspective of different characters--including the mute woman who lies helplessly in her bed (her thoughts are spoken for her by the author). This keeps the story having variety which is important as there are actually fewer characters overall than in many mysteries where there are scads of possible suspects.

This book is a good bit beyond my usual comfort level--I listened at the suggestion of a friend who had heard about the series. I found it a bit uncomfortable in many places--not quite creepy, but edgy, tense writing. Much of the story is spent on developing the characters, which heightens the intensity of it all. I think many people would greatly like this--I did, from the writing (and narration) standpoint, despite that it's style and darkness are not my usual cup of tea. I would recommend for those who enjoy stories on the dark side.

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5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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