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Book Review- Sleepless

Thanks to my gig as a freelance writer I got a chance to interview Charlie Huston about his comic writing work, which lead to my discovery of his novels. I’ve read all of them now and he’s currently one of my favorite writers. His stories blend noir and black humor in some fun and fascinating ways. Huston has done straight crime, a blend of horror and noir, and in “Sleepless” he tries his hand at science fiction and crime/noir and the result is his best work yet.

“Sleepless takes place in a world not that is not much different than our own in terms of technology. It’s happening in the near future. What makes it science fiction is a plague that causes people to become unable to sleep has broken out world wide, and it’s end result is fatal. The specific location of Sleepless is a Los Angeles that looks and feels a lot like Baghdad. Thank to the chaos of the sleepless plague street gangs have become full blown militias, and a psychotic sect of conservative christians have become terrorists and suicide bombers. It felt a lot like the movie “Children of Men”

Huston places his protagonist Parker Haas into the middle of this chaos. Park is an LAPD officer trying to make the world a better place for his baby daughter and his wife who has been afflicted with the Sleepless Plague. When “Sleepless” begins Park is undercover as a drug dealer and investigating a black market trade in the only drug that offers the Sleepless some comfort. His investigation uncovers a dangerous conspiracy and forces him to make some difficult choices for his family.

“Sleepless” was a fantastic read thanks to the strength of it’s cast of characters and its frightening and fascinating setting. Huston also plays with perspectives in an interesting way. Park’s story is told third person, but journal entries provide a deeper look into his though process. The book also offers up another parallel first person story with the character of Jasper, a hitman, whose path eventually intersects with Park. So if you’re looking for a powerful, morally murky, action thriller that will entertain you and in some ways break your heart, you definitely want to check out “Sleepless”

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