Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Little Sleep, a novel

Paul Tremblay introduces private investigator Mark Genevich of Boston in the hard-boiled mystery The Little Sleep. The book is not a satire of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, but it does follow the conventions of the noir mystery model. True to that form, P.I. Genevich contends with personal demons, finds himself out-muscled and out-gunned by people who seem to know much more than he does about a mystery involving compromising old photographs. He stumbles from Boston to Cape Cod and back, uncovering decades old secrets, gets roughed up in the process and finally finds the answers were very close to home all along.
Genevich smokes like a chimney, but tobacco and alcohol are not his demons. This detective suffers from narcolepsy which causes him not only to fall asleep throughout the day, but also to suffer hallucinations and cataplexy at any given moment without warning. In addition, Mark Genevich is badly disfigured from the car accident that killed his best friend and left him narcoleptic ten years before the novel begins.
By consuming massive amounts of caffeine and nicotine, Genevich perseveres in his pursuit of the answers to the mystery that landed on his desk while he was falling into a narcoleptic state.
Take a look at the author's Little Sleep Blog for a list of his appearances and for a sketch of Mark Genevich as his creator imagines him.
This book was one title out of a large bookbag full which I took on vacation last week. I highly recommend this mystery, but I'm not sure I can pigeon-hole who would like it: Robert B. Parker fans perhaps, readers who like a good dose of sarcasm and sharp dialogue with their mysteries along with a big helping of quirky characterizations. It was a little slow to start, for me, but now I'm eagerly waiting for the next book in the series, along with the Flavia de Luce mysteries reviewed in the previous post. Out of a large bag of books, these two were standouts.

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