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Welcome to the harrowing, apocalyptic world of Sleepless, Charlie Huston’s surrealistic thriller brought to life by Ray Porter and Mark Bramhall, the gravely-voiced narrators who deliver a tour-de-force performance of Huston’s engrossing novel. In a world eerily similar to ours, a mysterious illness leaves people permanently awake and desperately seeking DR33M3R, the highly-prized drug nicknamed “Dreamer” which brings relief to the growing hoard of insomniacs.
Park, an undercover cop, sets out to track down a rumor about an illicit network trafficking Dreamer. Another intelligent, tough, urbane character named Jasper hunts the same prize, but for different reasons. Both soon realize there’s more to this rumor. And you’re wise to be paranoid. Crazy conspiracy theories abound, some of which just might be true. Welcome home, fans of Philip K. Dick and The X Files.
Sounding like a mixture of a world-weary Humphrey Bogart detective and a steel-eyed Clint Eastwood character hell-bent on justice, Porter and Bramhall expertly deliver Huston’s blunt, precise dialogue like boxers methodically dismantling an overwhelmed opponent one sharp punch at a time. Huston packs a lot of information into each sentence: Los Angeles geography and military jargon, as well as asides about video games, opera, typewriters, French wine, Craigslist, and nightclub etiquette. And yet no matter what the topic, Porter and Bramhall effortlessly toss off each sentence in a James Bond, martini-dry style.
Careful listeners know better. Beneath the stinging sarcasm and gun-blazing bravado, Park and Jasper care deeply about the disintegrating world around them. That’s why both men attack their assignments with a dogged determination. So be warned. Once you start listening to Sleepless, you might suffer from the same sickness as you race to hear the thrilling ending of this frightening yet captivating vision of the not-so-distant future.
Every day, more and more people have been found to have contracted the illness - they simply cannot sleep. The illness arrives slowly, usually revealing itself in a stiff neck. Then it blooms, keeping one from sleeping altogether, eating away at one's mind, birthing panic and confusion until, finally, one enters into the last few months before death, known as the suffering. Similarly, the disease took hold of the globe slowly and now has infected one in every ten people.
In Los Angeles, a straight arrow cop named Parker T. Haas is posing as a drug dealer, working undercover to prevent the black market trade of a drug known as Dreamer, a drug known to be the only thing that offers relief to people who are sleepless. He only knows so much about the drug itself: It is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Afronzo-New Day; it is in small supply; it is in impossibly high demand. But in his darker moments, he admits to himself that his interest in the drug goes beyond the professional. His wife, Rose, has been sleepless for months, and they haven't yet found the courage to find out if their infant daughter is also sick. With Rose unwell and behaving erratically, Park's long hours are weighing on him, but he feels like he's on the cusp of learning something crucial. He feels like he's a few steps away from making the world a better place. So he presses on.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Benb on 02-22-11
I think people who were bored by this book may have been expecting another fast moving vampire/detective novel. Instead what you get is a stunning story akin to On The Beach. I have now listened to or read all of Charlie Huston’s works and feel that this is far and away his best. I can’t recommend the story highly enough and would encourage others to evaluate it on its own merits rather than what they expected it to be. With regards to the two narrators, I don’t understand why they chose to present the story in this manor; however, I did not find it distracting enough to take away a star. In short, this book is f…. awesome.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
By Pamela on 11-29-10
an intriguing plot
I first chose a Huston novel because of the fascinating title of his "The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death", which in turn provoked me to want to read more of his writing. I went on to the Joe Pitt series which were great. This one sounded unusual and it was. He did not fail to deliver.
The down sides for me were 1) it took me a couple of chapters to get the the hang of the narrator changes since they weren't exactly tied to the characters, but after that it went smoothly. And 2) the gritty noir-ishness of Huston's writing wasn't highlighted as much by these narrators as were the previous novels I "read", but I got past that easily enough; however those two points did keep me from giving it 4 stars. That and the fact that Huston's books just aren't "great" literature, but they are inventive and very well done.
I know Huston's style isn't going to appeal to everyone, but it does to me. and I am looking forward to more of his work and wish more of them were on Audible (preferably with Scott Brick).
6 of 6 people found this review helpful