Published by Doubleday Books on January 10th 2017
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room comes a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire the mesmerizing story of a wife and mother who vanishes from her bed late one night. When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee's disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee's husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs' Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee's disappearance, she finds herself drawn to Gavin, but she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body? Conjuring the strange and mysterious world of parasomnia, a place somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness, The Sleepwalker is a masterful novel from one of our most treasured storytellers."
After reading and enjoying The Guest Room, I was excited to begin reading The Sleepwalker. The disappearance of a woman who sleepwalks is certainly an original concept. I’ve read stories of people who do some pretty outrageous things in their sleep; from making sandwiches to killing a spouse. (Honest, officer, I dreamt I was wrestling a deer!) But nothing could have prepared me for Annalee’s particular brand of parasomnia. Let’s just say she’s not your garden variety sleepwalker.
The pacing of the first 2/3 of this book was slow but steady. The author did a fabulous job of setting up the story in such a way that my head spun with multiple theories about multiple characters. Who is responsible? Was it the husband? The detective who knew too much? The daughter? One of the neighbors? A current or former love interest? Colonel Muster in the library with the candlestick? Who???
And then there was the what and the why… Again, so many scenarios were rolling around in my head!
Though I didn’t grow particularly fond of any of the characters in the this book, save, perhaps, Joe the Barn Cat, I felt they were well-rendered and realistically flawed. It was difficult for me to feel that I was getting to “know” them very well because everyone was on my, if not the police’s, list of suspects. So the very thing that worked well for the book, didn’t work well for me on an individual character basis.
The last 1/3 of the book provided a page-turning experience! I loved that the ending was not one of the many I’d imagined. Though I would guess the events in this book are statistically unlikely, I didn’t find them to be so outlandish as to prevent me from becoming invested in the story.
Having now read two books by Chris Bohjalian, I can see why he has such a loyal fan base. I can’t wait to see what he’ll come up with next.
Thanks to Doubleday via NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.