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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sleep No More


Sleep No More is my first exposure to anything written by Greg Iles and, in fairness to him, I want to stress that I experienced the novel in audio book format, not as a printed version.  Although the book’s narrator did grow on me over the course of the book's ten CDs, his lack of preparation irritated me a number of times.  For instance, the man had no idea that Schlumberger is not pronounced to rhyme with hamburger.  Schlumberger is a French oil field service company, one of the largest in the world, and to hear its name mispronounced a dozen or so times in quick succession became a major distraction.  In addition, several of the book’s characters are from Louisiana and, in dealing with them, the narrator managed to mispronounce a city or two from that state and speak in one of the least authentic Cajun accents I have ever heard.

So remember that I am reviewing an audio book here – not simply a Greg Iles novel – and that one point has been deducted from my rating based on the quality of the audio work.

The storyline of Sleep No More is an intriguing one that kept me guessing for a long time whether I was reading a straight crime novel or a Stephen Kingish horror novel.  Its principle character is John Waters, who while attending the University of Mississippi had a passionate (and destructive) affair with a young woman who became Miss Mississippi while they were involved.  Sadly, just a few years later, Mallory Candler was raped and murdered in New Orleans.  Before her death, however, her bizarre behavior almost cost John Waters his life.

Years later, John Waters is married, has a little girl, and is making a good living as a Mississippi oil wildcatter.  His is a risky business, but he has been successful more times than not.  All is well in John's world until a beautiful young woman approaches him on the soccer field after one of his daughter’s matches.  The woman, Eve Sumner, leaves John with a knowing look and the same whispered word that he and Mallory exchanged when they wanted to sneak away together.  He is spooked by the encounter and cannot stop thinking about it. 

Greg Iles
Sleep No More is a better mystery than it is a horror novel.  Its best moments come when John is trying to determine exactly what is happening to him, whether or not he can trust his partner and best friend, and his fight to stay out of prison.  The horror aspect of the novel is not nearly so satisfying, at least in part because of the lack of closure provided by the book’s final pages.   

Rated at: 3.0
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