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Night Night, Sleep Tight


Night Night, Sleep Tight

NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT will be a surprise to those who have read author Hallie Ephron’s three previous mystery and suspense novels. While she has seemed incapable of writing badly throughout her career, her latest, a mystery that takes place almost entirely over the course of six days near the close of May 1985, is far and away her best work to date. It is a confident, sure-footed period piece that will have you reading all night as you chase the twists and turns of the story to its surprising ending.

The book begins with the reader bearing witness to a murder. The victim is Arthur Unger, who has more than played out his momentary Hollywood fame as a screenwriter and is brooding about his long-ago failed marriage. His thoughts also touch briefly on an unpleasant meeting he’s just had at his home, as well as the prospect of talking to a real estate agent to put his once grand Beverly Hills house up for sale. Sadly, Arthur’s thoughts are rudely interrupted by his involuntary demise. His adult daughter, Deirdre, discovers his body in the pool the next morning. The purpose of her visit was to assist Arthur in dealing with the real estate agent and preparing the house for sale, tasks that Henry, Deirdre’s brother and Arthur’s live-in son, seems apparently incapable of performing. Instead, she soon finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation.

"NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT is an extremely impressive work. The plotting and character development read as if they could have been transplanted from an unpublished Raymond Chandler novel."

Arthur’s death is not the only shocking event that Deirdre experiences that morning. The other is the arrival at the house of Joelen Nichol, who was her best friend during her childhood. The last time they saw each other was in 1963. Deidre vaguely remembers her father picking her up at Joelen’s house and being involved in an automobile accident on the way home, which left Deirdre unable to walk without crutch assistance. Joelen’s stepfather was stabbed to death on the same night, an act to which Joelen confessed and was found by a coroner’s jury to be in self-defense.

In the story’s present, the two friends who had been separated by tragedy are now reunited by another. And if Deirdre ever needed a friend, it’s now. As she goes through her father’s effects, she discovers a couple of items that are linked directly to that fateful night decades before, as well as some rather disturbing items that have the potential to cast her father in a different and somewhat unfortunate light. Deirdre slowly comes to understand that everything she thought she knew about that night and her injury is wrong. Even worse is the possibility that someone is trying to set her up as her father’s murderer.

Who is the actor behind all of this? And how close is this individual to Deirdre? As the book quickly moves to its startling conclusion, it seems more and more possible that justice, delayed decades ago and in the present, ultimately will be denied.

NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT is an extremely impressive work. The plotting and character development read as if they could have been transplanted from an unpublished Raymond Chandler novel. The work, however, is all Ephron’s, who takes a giant step from her already exemplary prior work and achieves an entirely new level of craftsmanship.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 26, 2015

Night Night, Sleep Tight
by Hallie Ephron

  • Publication Date: February 16, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062117645
  • ISBN-13: 9780062117649