Little Brown and Company £9.99

Three women have been found dead, the fourth was not so fortunate. But it seems Alison is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a stroke, deliberately induced by skilful manipulation of pressure points on the head and neck. She can see, hear and is completely aware of everything going on around her, but she cannot move and she cannot communicate. It's called locked-in syndrome. Because Alison is still alive the police believe that finally the killer has made a mistake.

DI Tom Thorne begs to differ, he believes that Alison isn't the mistake - the three women who are dead are. Thorne believes this smart, twisted killer is deliberately trying to induce locked-in syndrome believing he is sending his victims to a better place. Try telling that to Alison as her frustration builds - she saw her attacker, she knows what he looks like, but she has no way of telling DI Thorne. Meanwhile the killing speeds up.

Impeccably researched and clearly told, 'Sleepyhead' is a sinister thriller with an excellent twist. Moving away from the contemporary crime novel style, Billingham delves deeper into the psychosis of his characters. For a first attempt he has exceeded all expectations.

Charley Maine