REVIEWED BY KAREN BYROM
Seven guests… seven secrets… one killer. Do you dare to sleep?
One of my favourite thriller books of last year was The Fear by C.L. Taylor. So when this new one arrived, in a fanfare of publicity, I couldn’t wait to read it. With several bestselling books to her credit, this writer just gets better and better at ramping up suspense, anxiety and tension.
In Sleep we are introduced to Anna. All Anna wants to do is to be able to sleep. But memories of a terrible car crash, in which she was driving, keep her awake day and night.
Two colleagues died and one was so badly injured he may never walk again. No wonder Anna suffers crushing guilt – even though everyone assures her the accident was not her fault.
But it seems someone thinks she is to blame. Random messages are sent, strange things happen, and Anna becomes increasingly convinced she is being stalked.
So when she is offered a job on the remote Scottish island of Rum, she flees her home, job and unsupportive boyfriend to work in a small hotel where a select number of guest are expected for an adventure weekend.
The guests arrive one by one, and as the last one comes through the door, a storm blows up, cutting off the island from the mainland, and the hotel from the rest of the island.
Has Anna been followed to the island?
Then Anna’s taciturn boss collapses and dies… and soon after, strange things begin happening again. Has Anna’s stalker followed her to the island?
If so, it must be one of the guests, but which one? Each has his or her own dark secrets, from loner Trevor to pensioner Christine. But is any one of them capable of murder?
Cooped up together, unable to escape, the guest gradually turn on each other. Tensions escalate, danger lurks and Anna knows that they must find some way to escape the hotel before tragedy befalls them all.
What a page turner!
C.L. Taylor not only offers a tightly written, thrilling plot but a very real element of suspense that makes the reader question every twist and turn. The clever structure gives us several different points of view other than Anna’s – crash survivor Mohammed, Anna’s ex-boyfriend Alex, crash victim’s father Steve; could all or any of these be responsible for the traumatic events now unfolding?
And what about Anna herself? Is the danger real or in her mind? Is she the one pulling the strings as the guests disintegrate around her? Can we really trust her narrative?
The denouement, when it comes, is as crashing as the storm that isolates the protagonists in this truly gripping psychological thriller! You won’t sleep until you’ve finished it!