Friday, September 21, 2018

Fiction Review: The Sleepwalker

I have enjoyed Chris Bohjalian's novels for many years, including The Double Bind, Skeletons at the Feast, Midwives, The Night Strangers, Before You Know Kindness, and Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. Since I received The Sleepwalker from my husband as a gift last year and had hoped to read it for my 2017 RIP Challenge, it was the very first book I tackled for the 2018 RIP Challenge this fall. As always, Bohjalian did not disappoint, with this unique and creepy tale of a sleepwalker who goes missing.

Annalee Ahlberg is a wife, mother, architect, and sleepwalker. As the novel opens, Annalee's daughters, Lianna, twenty-one, and Paige, twelve, wake up one morning to discover that their mother is missing. Given her history of extreme sleepwalking - she once walked to a local bridge in the middle of the night and might have fallen off if Lianna hadn't found her - the police are called immediately and Annalee's husband, Warren, flies back from his business trip. One of the detectives is Gavin Rikert, who is young and handsome and seems especially interested in the case. As time passes, most people assume that Annalee is dead, but her daughters don't stop looking for her.

The story is told from Lianna's perspective, looking back on that time years later as an adult. Before each chapter, there is a separative brief narrative from an unknown source that sounds like the diary or confessions of a sleepwalker, which adds lots of fascinating facts about sleepwalking. Lianna's story slowly unfolds as it did back then, in the days and weeks after her mother disappeared. The mystery of her disappearance gradually unravels, as Lianna, Paige, and Warren grapple with the aftermath. This is not an action-packed thriller but a haunting mystery with a slow burn that delves into family relationships (and secrets) and Lianna's struggle to cope alongside the search for answers. As with all of Bohjalian's novels, The Sleepwalker is beautifully written and fits together perfectly like a puzzle. It keeps you guessing right up to the last pages with its gripping, quiet suspense. Now, I have some catching up to do; Chris Bohjalian has published ten more novels that I haven't read yet! I can't wait to read another.

284 pages, Doubleday

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Though I didn't listen to this on audio, the audiobook sounds good - listen to a sample here.

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  1. I like the description as a haunting mystery. This sounds really good.

    1. It was! I always enjoy his novels.