Sleep No More
Author: Greg Iles
I’ve read a lot of Greg Iles lately on the recommendation of a co-worker, and while not all of the books have been for me I’ve enjoyed how he’s jumped around genres a couple of times. While most of his books have fit into the thriller genre, his foray into World War II/espionage fiction were some of the better that he’s read and in Sleep No More he’s moved into Stephen King supernatural territory. Looking at some of the other reviews, it seems a lot of his fans didn’t appreciate the switch.
Here the story is that John Waters is a successful businessman who specializes in finding oil in hard to find places (namely in the Iles location of choice, Natchez, Mississippi to Louisiana). He’s currently happily married in a sex-less relationship, and working with a business partner who owes a lot of money to some bad people. About ten years ago he had a wild and passionate relationship with a woman named Mallory who loved having kinky sex. She also had a bit of a screw lose and became obsessive and dangerous.
When John meets a sexy new woman named Eve who seems to know way too much about things only Mallory used to know his life begins to get much more complicated. Eve wants to have plenty of crazy sex with John, and she wants him to believe that she is in fact Mallory in a different body. Is Mallory alive and well inside another woman’s body, or is it all part of an elaborate scheme by John’s wife and business partner to steal his money and frame him for a crime? Iles recurring character Penn Cage believes it’s a hoax, but the preface by the author wants readers to prepare for the supernatural.
While the plot wasn’t entirely unpredictable, I did like how the Eve/Mallory character was able to wreak havok on everybody’s life she touched. **Spoilers follow** The device for the transference in this book reminded me quite a bit of the movie It Folllows, but instead of a demon following the character around the evil entity was inside the latest sexual participant. In addition to the supernatural element, there’s also a fun legal component as the local law enforcement attempt to solve a murder that the reader is aware of what happened. **End of spoilers**
Although it was a simple story, Iles has a knack for keeping things moving quickly. My biggest complaint in the story was the lack of sympathetic characters. That’s not to stay all the characters were boring. Mallory/Eve was a lot of fun to read about and made for an interesting villain. By contrast, Lisa and John weren’t great protagonists, with Lisa in particular being way too forgiving toward John to seem realistic. The ending felt both truncated (which is bad) but also kind of out of left field (which was good). Overall it was one of the better books I’ve read by the author.