Thursday, 10 November 2016

Book Review: WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING by Kathryn Croft

While You Were Sleeping

 While You Were Sleeping
Author: Kathryn Croft
Publisher: Bookouture
Read: November 2016
Expected publication: 16 November 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?

Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.
And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything? 

My thoughts:

Looking at my one singular star, you can probably tell that I did not enjoy this book. It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but it was probably one of the worst I have read this year. So whilst I give 1 star for effort, and perhaps another half for getting it published, I am finding it hard to point out anything I actually liked about While You Were Sleeping, except the title, which sounded intriguing, and the general premise of the story, which I thought held great potential and made me request this book in the first place. So where did it go so terribly wrong?

Firstly, I found it very hard to get any sense of character, place or time in this novel. Without actually searching for it, I am still unsure of where this book was actually set. Some non-descript cul-de-sac in a suburbian neighbourhood in ??? England? Australia? Siberia?  Tara’s rather bland and somewhat juvenile monologue is non-descriptive, telling rather than showing, and saying very little that is actually worthwhile knowing. Whilst the teenage Rosie can maybe be excused for being a complete strop due to her age, there was no defence for Tara’s faulty reasoning. There was no blood on me, therefore I couldn’t have killed my neighbour. No, I just woke up naked in his bed, with no recollection at all of what happened, but never mind, let’s just get on with our lives, shall we? I have seen plenty of people in shock through my work to know that there can be a certain sense of denial, but Tara really takes it to the extreme. She either is on a high dose of daily valium, or needs a mental health assessment – stat!

The writing often struck me as amateurish, and the police investigation is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever come across in a murder mystery. Forget about forensics, who needs them? No, instead, DI Holden Hunt (the name!!!), bases his whole investigation on: “Call me crazy, but I’ve always trusted my instincts, and you are not a murderer”, and shares the details of the ongoing murder investigation with one of the main suspects of the crime. Just to bring this point home to the reader, he repeats this several times in different passages: “But I am trusting my instincts here.” Perhaps this is a new technique we have not heard about, set to entrap the unsuspecting murderer?  Forget method – you have instinct? Welcome to the force! I am hoping that no real police detective out there ever picks up this novel, or my emergency department will be full of police officers with sore abdominal muscles from laughing too hard!

So, giving up on taking anything that comes out of Tara’s mouth seriously after statements like: “Turning back to me, he shakes my hand, and I hope he doesn’t take my clammy palms as a sign of guilt”, I read on with the sort of wry amusement that comes from resignation. This book was never going to do it for me. I was either going to give up on it, feeling slightly cheated out of the good read promised to me by comparisons of the novel to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train (I should know by now that this usually means very little), or see the strange humour in between the lines. I hate giving up on any book, but it proved difficult. Sadly, While You Were Sleeping never managed to redeem itself to me with anything clever in its revelations or twists.

Perhaps I have been spoiled by recent 5-star reads such as The Trespasser (now there is one of the best fictional police investigations I have ever had the pleasure to read!), or I See You (a real suspense thriller), but While You Were Sleeping did not deliver for me at all. I certainly did not get the palpitations experienced by another reader, except perhaps from laughing too much about one of Tara’s more absurd statements. Thrilling? No. Believable? No. Even the mystery is questionable, as in the end I really did not care about who killed the man. But, as always, this is only my very personal opinion, so if you are game, pick it up and judge for yourself. Rant over.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Image result for 1.5 stars

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