Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mystery Book Review: The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay

by
A Mark Genevich Mystery

Henry Holt (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-8849-0 (0805088490)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-8849-6 (9780805088496)
Publication Date: March 2009
List Price: $14.00

Review: Paul Tremblay introduces Boston private investigator Mark Genevich, a man who suffers from an extreme form of narcolepsy, in The Little Sleep, a hard-boiled mystery written in a noir-ish style.

Genevich's latest client is the daughter of the Boston District Attorney, and also a finalist on the hit reality series American Star. At least he thinks she is. His client, that is. He knows she's been on television as he's seen the show. He has suggestive pictures of his client that may be part of a blackmail scheme or worse. Or so he believes. Coming to the conclusion that he's not quite sure who his client is or how he got the photos or even what the photos mean, Genevich pursues his investigation not knowing how it will end, or even knowing how it began.

The plot of The Little Sleep is more than a little bit derivative, but the author handles it well, constructing a nicely paced narrative that offers plenty of clues leading to a denouement that is rewarding, if not exactly surprising. This, in and of itself, would have been sufficient to recommend the book if not for two major problems.

The first is The Little Sleep is written in the present tense, seldom an appropriate choice for a mystery. And it really doesn't work here. Genevich narrates the story, but drifts between his conscious and unconscious states, leaving the reader unclear whether what's happening is real or imagined. No doubt this is intended to add an element of suspense to his tale, but it has an overly contrived feel to it.

The second is the character of Mark Genevich. He has a disability, as is made clear in the opening chapters, and feels sorry for himself. Rarely an endearing quality to readers. But it also isn't necessary to remind the reader in every subsequent chapter what narcolepsy is, what its symptoms are, how it manifests itself, how Genevich suffers from it, the consequences of its occurrence, and so on. At a pivotal point in the story when it does come into play, the impact is considerably lessened because the reader is simply numbed by the repetitiveness of its reference.

The Little Sleep is, in the end, rather disappointing. A well-crafted story overwhelmed by character and voice.

Special thanks to Henry Holt for providing a copy of The Little Sleep for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Mark Genevich is a South P.I. with a little problem: he’s narcoleptic, and he suffers from the most severe symptoms, including hypnogogic hallucinations. These waking dreams wreak havoc for a guy who depends on real-life clues to make his living.

Clients haven’t exactly been beating down the door when Mark meets Jennifer Times -- daughter of the powerful local D.A. and a contestant on American Star -- who walks into his office with an outlandish story about a man who stole her fingers. He awakes from his latest hallucination alone, but on his desk is a manila envelope containing risqué photos of Jennifer. Are the pictures real, and if so, is Mark hunting a blackmailer, or worse?

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