‘Lifeless’ is the 5th novel in Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne series.
In the previous novel ‘The Burning Girl’, DI Tom Thorne’s father died. Thorne feels that he is to blame for his father’s death and he is having difficulty coming to terms with this. He has also upset his superiors and has been moved to a boring desk job. They have even suggested that he take ‘gardening leave’.
But there is another serial killer in London, this one targeting members of the homeless community. The investigation is making very little progress and with rumours circulating that the killer may be a cop, members of the homeless community are even more reluctant than usual to talk to the police.
So, Thorne convinces his boss to allow him to go undercover – living on the streets, so see if he can find the information required to uncover the killer. Thorne feels that he has nothing to lose in either his personal or professional life. The role suits him extremely well and it would be easy for him to live this life permanently.
Gradually Thorne learns to live by the rules among the homeless. He makes friends and puts together the information to keep the case moving forward. What connects the men who have been murdered? Who was the very first victim? What is the real reason for the murders?
This novel gave an insight into the homeless community of London’s West End. There were some excellent characters and some heartbreaking stories that led these characters to their present lives. Thorne has a lot in common with many of the people that he met.
Once again it was Thorne’s amazing insight into human nature that led to the break in the case and it was a chance comment in a chance meeting that allowed Thorne to identify the person responsible for the deaths of several homeless men.
I’m enjoying this series and look forward to reading the next novel – ‘Buried’.
Book Published 2005