Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What if the one victim who survives isn't the mistake, but the intention? That's the question that DI Thorne has to answer in this first of the Billingham mysteries. Several women have apparently had strokes, but the autopsies show that there are tranquilizers in their blood, they've been washed with carbolic soap and there are strange tears in an artery. So, odd as it may seem, the goal isn't to kill but to create "locked in" women. Thorne is one of those loose cannons, oh-so-necessary to investigations but so hated by the higher-ups. He has hunches, some of which pan out spectacularly, and some which don't. He's got one now...
This procedural is a bit on the dark side, which I really like. There's no Elizabeth George-esque friends-and-family to create a cozier feel, which can lead to Book Bloat. And while this is set in London, the city doesn't play the starring role, so no scurrying to the map to try to trace the investigations progress (yes, I do that. sue me.).