Sunday, 14 January 2018

Book Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber






Book: Are You Sleeping 

Author: Kathleen Barber 

Pages: 337 

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 4 hours 

Plot Summary: When a family man is killed at point blank range in his home, it shakes a sleepy town to its core. The murder is a strange, horrifying crime but for the authorities it’s an open-and-shut case.

Ten years on, the victim’s daughter, Josie, has started afresh in New York – far from the tragic events that blew her family apart. No-one knows the truth about her previous life, not even her fiancé.
Investigative journalist Poppy is convinced the wrong man is in jail for the murder and she’s determined to prove it. What starts off as a true-crime podcast snowballs into a national phenomenon and everyone has an opinion on the case. Poppy’s relentless pursuit of the truth threatens to expose old secrets. Josie realizes that her father’s murder could have consequences more devastating than she had ever imagined.  

General Thoughts: I am an avid true crime podcast enthusiast! True story! I devoured all the episodes of Serial when it first came out and I am currently subscribed to 4 different true crime podcasts on Stitcher! :) So, obviously, this book appealed to me for more than one reason-  it is a murder mystery plus woven around a podcast. What is not to love?! Anyway, let's dive into the review! 

Things I Liked: 
  • The premise of this book is supremely interesting! A ten year old crime for which a young man was serving a life term in prison becomes the subject of a true crime podcast, which takes the US by storm. Yes, this is very, very similar to what happened to the Adnan Syed case when Serial exploded into mainstream America!  The book delves into the impact such a podcast has on the lives of the family members of the victim as well as the kind of scrutiny it brings on them. It also shows the mob mentality- the rabid, unfounded theories that everyone comes up with on Reddit and other such sites, the "first person" accounts of people close to the case and so on. So, yeah, the whole construct of the book and the narrative is very nicely crafted.  
  • Taking off from some of what I've already mentioned above, I, especially, love how the book looks at the impact of a podcast like this on the lives of the family members of the victim. Even when I was listening to podcast, I was thinking of this whole renewed interest in the case as some sort of quest for truth.. you know, as in, wouldn't the victim's family want the right person to be punished for the crime?! What I did not give much thought to (sadly so) is the toll that it takes on the victim's family as they are made to re-live a nightmare that they have tried their best to move on from! The book does an excellent job of showing how Josie is unravelling as the podcast gains popularity and how absolute strangers are discussing her father's gruesome murder as it is some book plot or something.  
  • The book is structured in a very interesting way. The story moves from Josie's life in present day New York and the impact the podcast is having on it to the days leading up to her father's murder to transcripts of the podcast and reactions of listeners on social media. So, as a reader you get the whole experience- past and present. The narrative is very fast-paced and there is never a dull moment. 
  • The book also dives into the impact a brutal crime has on a family. Josie's mother- an already depressed woman- goes off to join the cult, Lanie acts out like a classic nightmare teen while Josie tries and tries to be the 'good girl'. Josie's present day PTSD-like reactions the podcast, her unwillingness to share her truth with her boyfriend and unwillingness to return to her childhood town are all very nicely depicted. 
  • The characters are nicely crafted. Right from our protagonist Josie to her twin (and eyewitness of her dad's murder) Lanie to Josie's boyfriend to even the "journalist" behind the podcast- Polly. 
  • There is an interesting twist at the end, which is sort of predictable but not too shabby. At least, the good thing is that the case does get resolved one way or the other. 

Rating: 4/5 
A great book if you love crime, true crime and mystery books but, especially, if you love podcasts and such. Strongly recommend! 

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