In Sleep No More, Greg Iles returns to the territory of some of his best-loved works - the steamy and hypnotic small town Mississippi where Iles himself grew up. John Waters is a husband and father happy with his lot in life, though he has not always felt that way. Years earlier, he escaped an obsessive love affair, which he feared might consume him. The woman in question disappeared after Waters married, and later he heard that she was killed in New Orleans. But now, Waters has an uneasy feeling that she has resurfaced to trouble him - and entice him - once again. A woman he meets casually stuns him with a smile and a secret only his former lover would know. But when this alluring stranger is suddenly murdered, Waters' quiet life is enveloped in a whirlwind of guilt and suspicion, revealing the shadowy sides of love and friendship, and the terror that can result when passion becomes obsession.
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I'm not a big mystery suspense reader, but I've been on a Greg Iles binge in the past five weeks. "Sleep No More" is my sixth in a row. I really love the books. They're all set in the same universe, in Mississippi or New Orleans, and you start to feel like if you woke up tomorrow morning in Natchez, you'd head right over to the Trace, and if you were in New Orleans, no problem locating the FBI field office on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Some minor characters in one book become major characters in another, or vice versa. They are tightly, even dizzingly plotted, even if sometimes someone is about to do something so eyepoppingly stupid you want to yell out "hey! Little blonde cheerleader! Do NOT open that back door to see if someone's really out there! For God's sake, you're babysitting!!!" You can forgive that, though. Shakespeare let Julius Caesar leave the house and head over to the Roman Senate on the Ides of March, and we know how THAT turned out.
Then comes Sleep No More.
John Waters - the name made me giggle, which wasn't an auspicious start - is a happily married oil man with a seven year old daughter and an antebellum mansion. He spots a gorgeous woman at his daughter's soccer game, so gorgeous she just about drops him in his tracks, and next you know she's hunting him down like he's a six point buck. Once everybody has their clothes off she tells him that she's actually his old college girlfriend. Yes, that would be the college girlfriend who tried to kill him, OK tried to kill him twice. Problem is, old girlfriend herself has been dead for the past ten years, and the heavenly body she is supposed to be inhabiting now is ten years younger than hers would have been. Things Happen. As people tend to end up doing when Things Happen, Waters finds himself telling the whole story to a lawyer, who advises him to ignore the supernatural, Fringe-like explanation and find the logical one. And you keep listening, waiting for it to unfold, confident that a skillful, solid storyteller like Iles who has steered you around so many corners isn't going to leave you in this narrative ditch he's driven you into. Alas, even the words "logical explanation" never turn up again. I actually trudged through to the end hoping it would all be explained, all the way up until I got to "Audible hopes you have enjoyed". It just never happened.
And then, as others have noted, there are the sex scenes. Now, I like a good sex scene as much as the next person, and they're the best written parts of the book - but I started wanting to fast forward through them. They are actually critical to the story, but they just go on and on and on and then they keep happening over and over again. It becomes as dull as a character who keeps recounting trips to the supermarket, describing the size and the color of every item they put into their shopping cart at the supermarket, and in what order, and the problem is, they're going shopping every single day.
And now the absolute worst: the narrator. He is fine with male voices, but the adult women have the same silly falsetto voice as the seven year old girl. They all come off as mindless, pouting little brats.
Now you! Put that book credit right back in your wallet and run, run away!
I am a Greg Iles fan. However, I did not enjoy this book, Sleep No More, and was very disappointed. This book could be summed up as a supernatural sex thriller. Although the premise was intriguing, the heavy reliance on way too many explicit sex scenes took away from the suspense and flow of the plot. It made me wonder if Iles was practicing for a short story in a smut magazine.