The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian - A NetGalley Review

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
Publisher: Doubleday (January 10, 2017)
Description from the Publisher:

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? 

It's been a VERY long time since I read a Chris Bohjalian novel, but I've always enjoyed his work. This latest novel seemed to have similarities to some of my favorites: The Law of Similars, Trans-Sister Radio and the widely known Midwives (Oprah's Book Club), where the narrative centers around a mystery with an intriguing medical backdrop. Parasomnia, abnormal behaviors during sleep, is the fascinating catalyst of The Sleepwalker. 

Lianna, the daughter of the missing woman, is the central character and she didn't come to life for me at all. I didn't feel like I could connect with her, or her relationship with the detective working on her mother's case. The unfolding of Annalee's disappearance and the gut wrenching conclusion are well executed. Yet the bulk of the story is this back and forth dance between Lianna and Gavin, and I wanted to be invested in their romance. Alas, it seems the only reason they connect is that she finds him attractive and she can wheedle him for information about her mother. If I had been swept up in their star-crossed story, I might have felt differently. Additionally, the implausibility of his actions, with glaring conflicts of interest as a detective, were hard to swallow.

Bohjalian has such impressive breadth and depth to his body of work, and learning about the condition of parasomnia was rather interesting. But, I suppose not all of his novels are going to be right up my alley. Your mileage may vary!


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