Lifeless picks up where The Burning Girl left off. In The Burning
Girl, the humour paves the way for the heartache. Billingham utilizes
as a stand-up comic to heighten the emotional impact of the story.
Lifeless begins with a desolate Tom Thorne. Thorne’s career is circling
the drain and he’s perhaps not thinking rashly when he volunteers
for an undercover assignment to find the person who is beating homeless
people to death. One of the most compelling aspects of the book is that
the author is moving into fresh territory. Billingham has found other
types of crime to address, not afraid to step off the well-trodden serial
killer trail and explore new terrain. By making Thorne take on the roll
of a lost, homeless person without anyone left to care about him in the
world, his setting and roll parallel the desperation he feels inside after
the loss of his father.
It’s imperative to read The Burning Girl first to fully understand
Thorne’s emotional state at the beginning of Lifeless. I found myself
holding my breath at times at the beginning, wanting to see Thorne work
through his issues but afraid he was going to do something rash to compound
his problems. Has Thorne managed to get his career back on track, is he
ready to commit himself to a relationship? The best thing about a good
series is a compelling character that you want to spend time with. Lifeless
does what every great series book does: It leaves the reader wanting to
spend more time with the protagonist. My only complaint is that it will
be about ten months before I find out what the future holds for Tom Thorne.
For more information about Mark Billingham and the Tom Thorne series visit