Thursday, April 24, 2014


I hope you didn't buy Jeffery Deaver's Praying for Sleep as a hardback when it was first published, back in 1994.  And I’d suggest you give the 2014 New American Library paperback version a miss.  The trouble is, once you start a book like this, you’re likely to get so hooked on the story that you keep reading despite the many plot defects and improbabilities, and will rue the time you’ve spent on it when you reach the end.

Let me say that I have read a number of Deaver’s books with considerable pleasure.  But like many authors who enjoy the kind of success this one has had, there’s a formulaic quality that creeps in, along with the assumption that the reader will suspend all judgment on the basis of the author’s name alone.  This particular book is padded with all kinds of needless information and descriptive material, which makes it an unnecessarily long read.  For “character”, Deaver regales his reader with streams of back-story that reads more like pop psychology pasted on to cardboard figures than true human experience.

Suspense?  I guess, yes, at least in that you want to know what happens next.  But in this case even the suspense hits constant hitches in the form of improbable action on the part of the characters and twists of plot designed to serve the author’s purpose rather than the logic of fictional necessity.  I reached the denouement with the feeling that I had been manipulated from the start—not the best way to reach the last pages of a suspense novel.  At least, I suppose, the book lives up to its title: having invested this much time, you may well find yourself "praying for sleep" by the time you reach the end.

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