Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Deep Sleep" by Charles Wilson

The Sleep Disorders Institute allows its clients to control their dreams and explore their private fantasies. The institute - a mansion in the Louisiana bayou - comes under scrutiny when a female patient is discovered strangled. Henry Womack, a client who also has political connections, is the only person who can't be accounted for, and he becomes a prime suspect. However, the backwoods parents of deformed local Boudron have also been discovered murdered. The father's head has been left up a tree, which one-armed Boudron (potentially a suspect) should physically be incapable of. However, Henry Womack is an unlikely culprit also due to the time-frame of the murders.

Chief Deputy Mark French, haunted by an incident in his past (aren't they all?) must figure out the various possibilities and motives behind the murders. Another person in his sights is Shasha Dominique, the head of the Institute, and who has a mysterious past loaded with murder and voodoo.

"Deep Sleep" has some good ideas and a decent sense of place with a nice stab at atmosphere, but is mostly an underbaked effort. It simply takes too long for the reader to get a solid idea of where the story is headed. Is this a straight-forward mystery thriller? Is it a voodoo thriller? So much time is spent following Mark French and his never-ending parade of deputies (seriously, there's like fifty of them) in their pursuit of Henry Womack that other story elements are left in the shade. I don't mind being left in the dark a little bit, but it felt like the story was going nowhere for too long. If Wilson had upped the moments of creepy atmosphere, that would have been beneficial as well.

This one may not put you to sleep, but the slumberous pace could certainly have done with some work.

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