Guys look. Guys look at other women. Guys look at other women, and they do so with lust in their hearts. It's impolite to do it obviously when you're with your significant other, but it happens (even such a master of the discreet glance as myself got caught doing it yesterday). We're hardwired for it, and there are good, sound biological reasons why we do it. There are also plenty of good, sound sociological reasons why it shouldn't go any further than that, not the least of which is the danger of waking up in the middle of the night to find the Mrs. standing over you with a pair of hedge clippers, a blowtorch, and a pair of pliers. Guys, unfortunately, come equipped with two brains, and only enough blood to handle one; dumb things accordingly happen. I'm going to guarantee you one thing, however: after you read Greg Iles's SLEEP NO MORE, fooling around will never cross your mind. Well, it might, but you won't act on it.
SLEEP NO MORE concerns John Waters, husband and father, a fairly successful entrepreneur who is relatively content with his lot in life. While coaching his daughter's soccer game, he happens to notice Eve Sumner, a local real estate agent who is a total stranger to him but who knows him very, very well. She knows things about him, in fact, that only one other person knows. Or knew. That one person is Mallory Candler, who had been Waters's lover in college but whose obsession with him had ultimately driven him away from her. Candler had disappeared after Waters married, only to reappear, tragically, as a murder victim in New Orleans. Yet, it seems that Mallory, as Eve Sumner, is back, as improbable as that may be. Sumner knows all of Waters's secrets and all of the intimate memories that they shared together. Waters soon finds himself again involved with his old flame. Her obsession with him is as strong as it ever was, however, and Waters soon finds himself consumed by that passion, to the point where his entire life may be destroyed. When another tragic event occurs, Waters realizes that this is an affair that can only end in one way.
Iles manages a nice balancing act here, combining elements of suspense, fantasy, horror, and romance into what is by turns entertainment and a cautionary tale for our time. No event takes place in a vacuum; every action has a consequence, many of them unfortunate and unintended. Iles drives this point home repeatedly, all the while ratcheting upward the suspense quotient. The result is a tale that is compelling, haunting and, ultimately, unforgettable. SLEEP NO MORE continues the momentum established by DEAD SLEEP, Iles's last work, and will leave both old and new readers clamoring for his next work and, incidentally, faithful.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011