I have always enjoyed C.L. Taylor’s writing but I think Sleep is probably my favourite of her books so far. It’s fair to say that this is not actually a sleep-inducing story. In fact, I found myself staying awake that bit longer to read it.

The story begins with Anna Willis and her colleagues undertaking some training. On the way back there is a nasty accident and it obviously has a terrible effect on Anna. She finds herself struggling to sleep and struggling to adjust back to her life. To get away from it all she ends up taking a job on the Scottish island of Rum, working as a hotel receptionist/cleaner. A walking tour brings seven guests to the island and what seemed like an idyllic escape becomes a nightmare for Anna as somebody seems to be determined to facilitate her death.

There are almost two separate stories here. I feel that Anna’s time on Rum is quite separate to the events that went before and yet they are perfectly intertwined and kept me wondering how the past was connected to the present. I absolutely loved the setting. This is not a locked room mystery but a locked island mystery as a storm means that the guests, Anna and her boss, David, are trapped together with no way across the river and no means of communication. I have a bit of a thing about islands in fiction anyway, so that aspect worked really well for me.

Knowing that Anna was sleep-deprived really made me wonder if she could be trusted. Was she unreliable or was someone really out to get her? And I obviously suspected all of the guests, just as Taylor wanted me to. The denouement, when it came, was unexpected and very clever.

I thought Sleep was a very absorbing story and a very twisty one. It’s extremely atmospheric with the weather and the claustrophobia of the island being central to the plot. It’s really a fabulous psychological thriller.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 5/4

Sleep by C.L. Taylor
Avon 9780008301316 hbk Apr 2019