A prodigious amount of research has obviously gone into the writing of this novel by Chris Bohjalian, whose books cover a wide variety of subjects.
Many people sleepwalk; most fortunately without causing themselves severe harm. Others are not so fortunate and in their walks can do injury to themselves and even possibly kill themselves. Annalee Ahlberg has a history of sleepwalking and is enrolled in a medical project to try and help her. She is also taking medicines prescribed for sleepwalkers.
The novel is written from the viewpoint of Lianna, the oldest of her two daughters, and describes one instance where Lianna actually saved Annalee’s life when she pulled her back from the Gale River Bridge near their home in Vermont. Both Lianna and her younger sister Paige have had episodes of walking in their sleep although nothing apparently as severe as Annalee.
One evening Annalee disappears and just does not appear shortly afterward. After a massive search by neighbors, friends and authorities it becomes fairly apparent that she is dead, possibly drowned in the Gale River. Paige starts to swim the river fairly frequently looking for any clue or sign pointing to the whereabouts, dead or alive, of her mother. No trace is found.
Lianna has a meeting with the police to attempt to determine if they are still investigating her mother’s disappearance. In the course of attempting to get information she meets Gavin Rikert, a detective with the local police department. Lianna and Gavin develop an attraction for each other and it comes out that Gavin is a sleepwalker who is also being treated by the same doctor that worked with Annalee. Also discovered by Lianna is the fact that her mother and Gavin met for talks several times without her father being aware of it. Were they lovers?
Bohjalian has no problem keeping the reader glued to the book. He provides information about forms of sleepwalking, which among other things can include sleep sex on the part of one of the partners. A very intellectually rewarding novel as well as commanding the rapt attention of the reader, and certainly another well done book by Chris Bohjalian.
1/17 Paul Lane
THE SLEEPWALKER by Chris Bohjalian. Doubleday (January 10, 2017). ISBN 978-0385538916. 304p.