Title: Are You Sleeping
Author: Kathleen Barber
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: August 1st, 2017
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.
The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.
Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.
When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.
I really enjoyed this book. I read it in about two days – it was really hard to put down.
Barber’s writing is immersive and entertaining, balancing fantastic dialogue with just the right about of delving into the emotional journey of our protagonist, Jo, and snippets of modern media – reddit threads, twitter feeds and, the most important, podcast transcripts. All these elements blend together really well, flow seamlessly from one section to the other.
I really enjoyed reading the podcast transcripts and experiencing this murder mystery through the eyes of those outside of the family, especially when these characters crossover with the main body of the story.
It also questioned the sudden popularity of these kinds of shows. Admittedly, I enjoy sitting down and binge watching and passing judgment as an armchair detective, but reading this almost made me feel guilty. It’s strange how, because it seems like a world away, you don’t connect that this has happened to real people, in the real world who are likely still suffering from it. The raising of this moral dilemma and of society’s fascination with crime and murder is definitely an interesting part of the story that I wasn’t expecting to come away thinking about.
As for characters, I really enjoyed reading about Jo and Lanie. As the story is set in present times, Barber focuses a lot on the past, on the twins relationship with each other and how it changed, how they grew apart and why. There so much strain and tension, so much hatred and reading about them reconnecting, trying to find common ground after everything was a really sweet part of the reading experience.
I liked Aunt A and her desperate attempt to keep everyone together, and Ellen with her unexpected loving relationships and caring attitude, and Caleb who is just a darling, so supportive and understanding of everything that’s happening.
In terms of the actual murder mystery, I enjoyed the twists and turns and personally, I fell for the red herring hook line and sinker. I honestly didn’t suspect the outcome at all and that’s a real credit to this story and Barber’s ability to weave doubts into the narrative.
Are You Sleeping is a really enjoyable murder mystery that uses our modern love of true crime investigations in a way I haven’t seen in other crime novels. Barber focuses on the victim’s family and the fall out of a murder and you genuinely feel for every character in this book.
For all you true crime fans out there, this is definitely a book for you.