Book Review: THE LITTLE SLEEP by Paul Tremblay
Mark Genevich is a Boston private detective whose practice isn't exactly booming. That is because he has severe form of narcolepsy, which includes hypnagogic hallucinations, like waking dreams. When the daughter of the district attorney and a contestant on the reality talent show American Star asks for his help in finding her missing fingers, Mark is willing to obilge, until he wakes up and wonders if it had all been a hallucination. The only evidence of a visitor in his office is a manilla envelope on his desk with revealing photos of the young girl. The detective has no choice but to plunge into what proves to be a bad dream of a case, with twists and turns even his subconscious could not anticipate.
THE LITTLE SLEEP, featuring a narcoleptic detective, could have been rife with comedy genius and a light-hearted narrative, but Tremblay decided to go a very different route. This book is a dark narrative filled with elements of blackmail, murder, and a cautionary tale of one man's effort to stay awake. There are moments of great humor, like Mark's frequent self-deprecating humor, but the overall tone is more serious.
Tremblay uses his character's narcolepsy to create an almost perfect unreliable narrator in THE LITTLE SLEEP. There are moments in this book where the reader will feel lost by the incongruity of the scene, not knowing what is real and what is not. Rest assured that Tremblay always brings the narrative back around and clears up any and all confusion.
Speaking of characters, Mark Genevich is not your typical noir detective. His narcolepsy is an interesting diversion from the usual alcoholic private eyes that you often find in noir fiction. At times, Tremblay falls back on the narcoleptic trope a bit too much, but it isn't enough to drive a reader from the story.
THE LITTLE SLEEP was an enjoyable read, particularly if you are a fan of noir fiction.