Book - The Little Sleep/No Sleep Till Wonderland


Steve Taylor-Bryant got twice what he bargained for as he read The Little Sleep and No Sleep Til Wonderland omnibus edition by Paul Tremblay, thanks to Titan Books...


Paul Tremblay is a new name to me and I love that discovery you get when an author you’re not familiar with comes across your desk, especially if the book is published by your friends at Titan Books, because you’re confident you aren’t going to be let down. But... not being familiar with this style, or the horrific sounding medical condition of the book’s unlikely hero made the first third of The Little Sleep a little weird and uncomfortable. Not knowing what’s real or even what’s going on is an unusual place for me as a reader but I persevered and I’m so glad I did because, once Mark Genevich’s narcolepsy becomes easier to read, you realise he also doesn’t know what’s real or even what’s going on and that makes for a fun, intriguing, and clever adventure wrapped up in a pulp detective style. Book one of this double storied release, The Little Sleep, kicks us off and, due to keeping this article as spoiler free as possible, here’s some synopses...

Mark Genevich is a South Boston private detective who happens to have a severe form of narcolepsy, which includes hypnagogic hallucinations, like waking dreams. Unsurprisingly, his practice is not exactly booming. Then one day the daughter of an ambitious district attorney and a contestant on the reality talent show American Star named Jennifer Times comes to him for help--or does she? A man has stolen her fingers, she claims, and she'd like Genevich to get them back. When the PI wakes up from what must surely be a hallucination, the only evidence that his client may have been real is a manila envelope on his desk. Inside are revealing photos of Jennifer. Is Genevich dealing with a blackmailer or an exhibitionist? And where is the mysterious young lady, who hopefully still has her fingers attached?

And the second story...

Mark Genevich is stuck in a rut: his narcolepsy isn't improving, his private-detective business is barely scraping by, and his landlord mother is forcing him to attend group therapy sessions. Desperate for companionship, Mark goes on a two-day bender with a new acquaintance, Gus, who is slick and charismatic - and someone Mark knows very little about. When Gus asks Mark to protect a friend who is being stalked, Mark inexplicably finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation and soon becomes the target of the police, a sue-happy lawyer, and a violent local bouncer. Will Mark learn to trust himself in time to solve the crime - and in time to escape with his life?

As I said earlier, once I’d got used to reading a narcoleptic narrators ramblings, the books got exciting. The Massachusetts setting is one I know from movies which helped with the cinematic part of my reading brain and Tremblay is a clever writer that hides refreshingly original plotting underneath imaginative storytelling tools and finding all those noir tropes I’m accustomed to being wittingly turned on their head led to some fascinating reading time. I really liked The Little Sleep despite my initial issues but it’s definitely No Sleep Till Wonderland where the best writing is found. Wonderland has inventive concepts as the first book does but gets a lot more up close and personal with Mark Genevich, his past, his issues, his struggles with relationships, all of which give the detective a lot more depth.

I’m not sure whether Tremblay is bringing back Genevich for another outing or not, but I truly hope so because, whilst I read a lot of pulp detective type stories, rarely am I challenged and entertained like I have been here. Fresh takes on old favourites are always welcome by this reader and when they are witty and clever like Paul Tremblay has created here they are must reads.

Paul Tremblay's The Little Sleep and No Sleep Til Wonderland omnibus edition is out now from Titan Books

Image - Titan Books