When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee’s disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee’s husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs’ Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee’s disappearance, she finds herself drawn to Gavin, but she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body?
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
I went into this book blind. I had seen the cover and heard of the author, but hadn’t read any of his books and didn’t know what this one was about until after I started listening. Annalee Ahlberg, a woman who has issues with sleepwalking, goes missing. She leaves behind two daughters and a husband who must come to terms with her disappearance. Told from the point of view of her eldest daughter, Lianna, the listener gets to go along for the ride as the search continues and the police try to decide if Annalee met with foul play, or possibly harmed herself in her sleep. The truth ends up being neither, and is nothing I saw coming until right before it was spelled out for me.
The Sleepwalker is equal parts mystery novel and family drama. Everyone has their secrets, and Lianna isn’t sure who she can trust. I wish it would have moved along a little more quickly, but overall it was a good story. I will look for more by Chris Bohjalian.
The narration was not so great. The main narrator was soft-spoken, and her voice fit the mood of the story very well, but she paused in odd places and put emphasis on what felt like the wrong word in many sentences. This was jarring and distracting. There were also brief passages at the beginning of each chapter read by a 2nd voice, which I found very irritating. In all fairness, these passages were apparently journal entries, and the 2nd voice did help to distinguish them from the rest of the story. I do think I might have enjoyed the book a little more if there had been different narrators, however.