The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
The Sleepwalker was my third book by Chris Bohjalian – I loved the first book I read but wasn’t as keen on the second one I picked up. Thankfully the Sleepwalker, although not my typical type of read, turned into a fairly gripping psychological mystery.
As the story starts we make the acquaintance of the Ahlbergs: Lianna, her younger sister Paige and their father Warren. The three of them are going through a very distressing time as their mother/wife has vanished. Annalee Ahlberg suffers from Parasomnia which in her case manifests itself in sleep walking as well as a couple of other ways that are revealed as the story progresses. On a previous occasion, Annalee’s sleepwalking very nearly resulted in a fatal accident, only prevented by her elder daughter having followed her in the night and preventing her fall from the Gale River Bridge. Unfortunately, it seems that Annalle’s latest sleepwalk may not have been so lucky. The woods have been combed but apart from a small swatch of fabric from Annalee’s nightshirt the body has not been found. And so the story begins.
The Sleepwalker is going to be an odd book to review because I don’t want to give away spoilers so I’ll simply try to keep with what I enjoyed.
Firstly, the writing. Chris Bohjalian is a very good author and can really set the scene and develop the characters in a way make them very real. He’s also a master at throwing in things that will either muddy the waters or simply just make you think. The sleepwalker is a conundrum, it gets off to an immediate start and yet at the same time it does develop slowly, not in a bad way, more in a way that makes you think you know where the story is going when really you probably don’t. To all intents and purposes this looks like a well to do, loving family, and in fairness they are, and yet that doesn’t mean they don’t have their fair share of secrets and lies! Bohjalian manages to explore family dynamics in such an intriguing and mysterious way. Was the marriage truly happy, was either of them having an affair? Why did Annalee take medication for depression, and all sorts of questions about other little niggles and rumours that once occur pretty quickly take on dramatic proportions.
Then we have the detective, Rikert, a good looking chap by all accounts. It seems that Rikert suffers from similar sleep disorders and it seems developed a friendship with Annalee a number of years ago when they both underwent study and treatment at a sleep disorder centre. He now appears to have taken a fancy to her eldest daughter Lianna who seems to reciprocate the interest – but underneath it all Lianna wants to know if their friendship was ever something more.
On top of that there’s the fascinating aspect of the story that revolves around sleep disorders – there’s a lot more to it than I ever realised! Quite scary really. You think you’re all tucked up in bed, safe and sound – but maybe not. the mind is a powerful thing without doubt.
The Sleepwalker was an entertaining read in more ways than I expected. The writing is smooth, the mystery twists and turns and the outcome was one I didn’t foresee.
A psychological mystery that examines family dynamics and takes a look at the blemishes that hide underneath the surface.
I received a copy of The Sleepwalker courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.