Kathleen Barber's wonderful debut novel novel - Are You Sleeping.
"Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case - and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter."
Uh huh - it definitely caught my eye - 'twisty' and 'psychological' always do! Would Are You Sleeping live up to this blurb? Yes it did - Barber delivers as promised - this was a wonderfully addicting read!
Father murdered, next door neighbour convicted on her sister's testimony, mother running off and joining a cult. It's no wonder Josie left home as soon as she was able. But with the death of her mother, she reluctantly returns home for the funeral. She has created a life for herself with the man she loves. But she's lied to him about everything. The podcast opens not just the case, but the wounds and secrets in this family.
Past and present are explored through Josie's narrative. Those memories, the tumultuous present and that podcast raise nothing but questions for Josie. I really liked Josie as a main character. And I disliked her sister Lainie just as much. The dynamic between the two is quite complicated and underlines how much our younger years affect the present. There's something 'off' about a number of supporting characters and I had suspicions about many of them.
I thought Barber's format was an inventive premise. I loved the inclusion of tweets, news articles, transcripts, blog comments and more. The podcast as a driving part of the plot is so very current - as is the public's fascination with such cases. The 'right of the public to know' and invasion of people's lives in the name of news also speaks to today's society. The investigative reporter - Poppy - is a perfect caricature of this style of reporting.
Are You Sleeping is a commentary on society, an exploration of familial relationships and a really good whodunnit. (Yes, it's a twisty ending!) I really enjoyed it and will be looking for Barber's next book. Read an excerpt of Are You Sleeping.
You can connect with Kathleen Barber on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.