Tense and turbulent, this latest thriller by bestselling CL Taylor will have you too scared to close your eyes.

‘I need to wake up. I need to get up and run.’

When Anna Willis wakes from sleep in a hospital bed she learns that two of her colleagues died and one is paralysed. This is where her panic begins, because she was the driver.

‘Every day I took the same route to work, back and forth, back and forth, never finding the escape route, because I never thought to look for it.’

Many of us plunder through the days until eventually we blink and years have passed and we wonder what the point of it all was. But sometimes we receive a little jolt, a tilt in the rudder which changes our course. For Anna, in her early 30s, this jolt comes in the form of a car accident.

‘Guilt is such a furtive emotion. It lurks in the shadows of the mind, waiting for the chance to steal the limelight from happiness, contentment and peace…’

The theme of guilt pervades this three-part story. Anna initially tries corrective action but phoning the victims’ families offers no solace. With the driver involved convicted of careless driving she moves to the beautiful and remote Scottish isle of Rum to work in the Bay View Hotel, hoping to put the tragic incident behind her. But within a few days she realises that someone has trailed her there. And that someone will not leave until Anna has paid the highest price.

“TO DIE, TO SLEEP”.

Anna is plagued with messages and signs that someone intends to kills her. Each of the seven hotel guests has a secret and the author cleverly spins you from person to person, making each of them a plausible prime suspect in turn. And just when you think you have the answer, a twist appears.

Anna believes the crime of killing her will be committed by one of the following:-

  • sallow-skinned, pent-up teenager, Katie
  • diabetic, cheery hipster, Joe
  • irritable, bitter Call Centre Manager, Fiona
  • furtive, nervous loner, Trevor
  • lithe, exasperated Melanie
  • belligerent, frowning, ex-Professor, Malcolm
  • curious pensioner and First Aider, Christine

Living on her nerves Anna has to start thinking quickly if she wants to stay alive.

“And when the storm struck, there was no escape…”

The rustic isolation and soft cameraderie between the few locals is accurately depicted as they laugh at the fact that power could be lost in an instant and travel across the island may be stunted. Dark storm clouds yawning into the angry grey sea, the thick gorse, the high cliffs, the river blocking the road and the lack of contact with the outside world all add tremendous tension to this tortuous plot.

“How can you sleep, Anna, after what you did?”

As a reader might expect, the theme of sleep appears in various forms throughout: from snoring softly, to yawning, utter exhaustion, a case of sleepwalking, and fighting sleep to avoid waking up. Tie these in with literary quotes from Hamlet and the nature of sleep is very dark indeed.

Disturbed sleep may accompany disturbed mental health and CL Taylor has captured the pain of haunted nights and respectfully laced it with suicidal tendencies and syndromes associated with trauma.

It was a very painful book for CL Taylor to write, for reasons she attributes in her acknowledgements. It is perhaps for this reason that, she divulged during a bookshop talk we attended, that the process of writing Sleep only took her 4-5 months, plus edits. This is an astonishing feat when you consider the complexity of the plot and the depth of each character.

‘Assuming. Guessing. Gut instinct.’

Sleep is an addictive Agatha Christie style whodunnit, with the intended outcome revealed at the outset; the reader just us to untangle who will commit the crime. Simple, right? Our formula would be – follow your gut instinct then change your mind six times!

Out now in hardback and ebook the paperback launches on 24 September 2019. Definitely one of our bedside reads.