Friday, October 29, 2010

Sleep No More, Greg Iles (The Great Library Challenge author I)

Posted by lea at 11:33 AM
I had a hard time choosing an I author for my Great Library Challenge because I'd read most of the ones suggested to me (thanks for the suggestions LO and FB) and my local library had only a single shelf of I authored books. So I simply chose the author most represented in that section (with 4 books, Greg Iles had 30% of the shelf space market at Surry Hills Library) and chose the book that sounded most interesting.

Although it's not the sort of book I'd normally choose, the case for Sleep No More was strengthened by Stephen King's recommendation on the cover: 'a thriller that really thrills, a shocker that really shocks'.

Was it really? I tentatively read the first few chapters, prepared to swap the book for another I author if I didn't enjoy it, but the next thing you know, I was halfway into the story with no intention of stopping. It really was a thriller that thrilled.

The premise is that John Waters, an oil well driller with a good business and generally happy family, is suddenly approached by a strange woman who purports to be imbued with the spirit of his ex-lover, an obsessed fatal-attraction type who was raped and murdered 10 years ago. She claims that through the act of sex, a portal is created whereby she can overtake the use of her 'host's' body through orgasm (I know the temptation to laugh is strong, but resist. It gets chilling.).

His incredulousness turns to fear when she starts to prove that it's really her - it took her 10 years to make her way to him (like a game of 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon) from the man who raped and murdered her all the way into the body of an attractive young woman in his hometown in Mississippi, but now she's back and she still wants him all to herself.

Sleep No More combines horror and suspense with elements of supernatural fantasy to make a very compelling read. There were only two points in the book when I fell out of the spell, through an overused cliché or lame turn of phrase, but otherwise I was pretty engrossed.

It's a shame that the climax was rather unsatisfactory and lets down the build up that Iles achieves, but a plot like this is understandably difficult to resolve. It's just unfortunate that the final pages (which still manage to elicit a certain number of chills) takes it from a cinema-worthy psycho-sexual thriller (of the chilling rather than titillating kind) to a midday movie.

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