Sleepwalker

Title: Sleepwalker
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, murder/mystery
Length: Novella (40,153 words, 134 PDF pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5


Summary Review: A touching story about two unlikely men who found love amidst the ruin that was one man ‘s life.

THE BLURB

Daniel Weber (“Web” to his friends) was a promising young biology student on the fast track to a prestigious grad program. That was a year and a half ago. Now he’s working a dead-end security job and living in his cousin’s two-flat. Thanks to the mysterious George, he’s got gaps in his memory too big for his pocket notebook to fill.

Jesse Ray Jones is the taxidermist who’s trying to help the Faris Natural Sciences Center secure the MAHPS Grant, a funding that would keep the foundering organization afloat for a few more years. He looks like a skatepunk and talks like a science major, which pushes Web’s every last hot-button.

It’s lust at first sight…but hooking up proves difficult when a supervisor at the Center is found bludgeoned to death in the petroglyph alcove—and Jesse and Web are the primary suspects.

THE REVIEW

I love Jordan Castillo Price’s paranormal stories and can’t get enough of them because the worlds she creates are always dark and scary, especially in her PsyCop series. This time the author has given M/M fans a contemporary story in a different setting, a museum, a story that is part murder/mystery, part human tragedy and part romance which, taken together, turned out to be a one of her best yet. Sleepwalker is about many things but the most important element of the story is Daniel Weber’s sense of humour as his life is falling apart; a life that definitely is not a bowl of cherries.

“Web” is 24 years old and works in a dead end security job at the local museum in Faris, Illinois, a small imaginary town of only a couple hundred people that is famous for an F-5 tornado that levelled almost everything in its wake 15 years ago. Shortly after the tornado hit, the town was given enough money to build a National Sciences Center but its declining population base was insufficient to maintain the financial viability of the Center so the museum was seeking a grant to keep up some of the remaining artifacts, most of which were falling apart. Luke, a supervisor at the Center, decided to hire a firm that specialized in restoration, which is how Web’s life changed for the better, a whole lot better, because Jesse Ray Jones, the taxidermist whose job it was to prepare the exhibits for the grant meeting, walked into his life, dimples and all.

Being a security guard was the only job Web could get after a brain tumour ended a future filled with promise. Told in his first person POV, you will experience Web’s frustrations when he can’t remember whole chunks of his day or night as he zones out and sleepwalks, and you will celebrate his small triumphs when he remembers even a small slice of what happened in those lost minutes or even hours of every day. His “voice” was so funny that many times I laughed out loud as he recounted his activities and how he tried to steal time wherever he could to make his shift go faster. Web lives in a “two flat” with his cousin Alex and his wife Kathy, a police officer whose name he could never recall, and he has to keep referring to his notes in the little notebook he carries everywhere, to try and remember Kathy’s name whenever he thinks of her or sees her, which was really funny but sad at the same time. The only person he has no difficulty remembering is Alex who had saved his life on that fateful day the tornado hit.

The Center was so cheap that Web didn’t even have a gun; his only weapon was a can of pepper spray which he probably never had occasion to use but I couldn’t get the picture out of my head of him going on his rounds with nothing to defend himself but pepper spray. 🙂 Bridget, the owner, was such a tightwad that she had cut back on everything including the cleaning crew, which meant that the exhibits were covered in dust, but you wouldn’t have been able to see it as the lighting in the Center was almost non existent since the electricity was kept at the bare minimum to maintain the insurance. I loved it when Web went on his rounds and talked to the exhibits, and it was obvious that the author knew her way around a museum as the book was dense with details about working in such a facility among its long dead inhabitants, and all the routines that made up the daily life of the staff.

The major plus of working at the Center was that employees were given that most important of all benefits – health care, so it was understandable that Web was furious when he found out through his snooping that Luke planned to outsource the security, which meant that he would be out of a job. For someone in his precarious health that would be a death sentence. Luke had another nefarious plan which would screw Jesse’s firm out of their fees, so when he was found bludgeoned to death the two prime suspects were Web and Jesse Ray.

This story is so well written, from the plot to the characters, and there’s so much going on that it’s difficult to give you more than a flavour without heading in the direction of spoilers. Jordan is such a wonderful writer that Web comes alive in technicolour in her vivid imagination, and you will fall in love with his character. I was amazed at her insight into what victims of brain tumours endure, as Web’s desolation and constant questioning of himself about where his ‘lost’ time went, and his frustration when he could not recall his actions was really painful to experience. He even went so far as to ask himself whether he could have killed Luke, since he had zoned out during the time he was murdered. One of the most surprising things about Sleepwalker was how funny it was. I thought that a book about a character with a brain tumour would be a real downer but it was surprisingly upbeat, and we tend to forget that people who have a dire health diagnosis can still be fun. However, I must say that at times the author’s sense of humour verged on the macabre as she put poor Web through the wringer. Web even named his tumour George, and he blamed George for just about everything bad in his life, and it was strange to  hear him wondering which person was actually present – Web or George.

If you’re looking for a book with lots and lots of sex you will be disappointed because you won’t find it in Sleepwalker, but what there was was fresh and erotic, as Web tried everything he could to get into Jesse Ray’s pants, and while he did succeed in the end, the sex was definitely not as full-on as some readers might want. Just saying! However there is a HFN ending for Web and Jesse Ray which should satisfy most romance readers. If there were two weak links in the book they were probably the identification and apprehension of the killer, although the author did a really good job, but that was not IMO the major element of the story even though a fair amount of time was spent on the investigation and questioning of the suspects. My other disappointment was that there was not enough face time with Jesse Ray, mainly because this was Web’s POV.

If you’re looking for a heartwarming story about caring and family with a lot of fun and three dimensional characters, Sleepwalker has it in spades. Highly recommended.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

20 comments

  • Hi TJ
    I’m so happy you liked this book as much as I did. Wasn’t Web priceless? Books like this one are the reason she is one of my auto buys.

    Reply
  • Hi Wave,
    I bought this based on your recommendation and it was every bit as good as you said. I loved Web and all of his quirks, like having to write down important things to remember and Alex’s wife’s name. Priceless stuff! All of the detail that Jordan put into the museum really made it come to life, or dilapidated half life in this case. I would highly recommend this to everyone.

    Reply
  • Hi Val
    Jordan is so great at world building as well as her characterizations. That museum was for the birds. I was sure that if anyone touched the exhibits, other than Jesse Ray, they would fall apart. 🙂

    She did a great job on this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope that she brings the characters back in a sequel because I would really like to know Jesse Ray.

    Reply
  • I enjoyed this book so much! I loved the family interactions, I loved the love affair, I loved the bizarre sections of lost-time with Web and how he improvised to hide his condition, and I especially loved the weird, crappy, decaying museum with all of its half-assed exhibits! Jordan said she drew upon experience working in a museum, and she’s definitely got those “insider” type details in place. 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi Wave, hi guys,
    I’m so gratified to see what you enjoyed about the story. I think Web has a lot of room for character development. I hint that he was a bit of a jerk before his illness, but now he’s got to take stock of what’s important to him and grow up.

    I think if he had met Jesse while he was well, they never would have connected. So in a grander sense, everything happens for a reason.

    Honestly, with the sex…no one ever seems to think it’s the right amount 😉

    Reply
    • Hi Jordan
      I did understand what you were driving at with the glimpses of Web’s former life, but I didn’t want to give everything up in the review and be accused of spoilers. 🙂

      I thought the amount of sex in a story which had a great deal of plot was quite appropriate. 🙂 You know what I look for – a good plot and characters that move me. Sex is way down the line but if it’s well written I enjoy it and read it with gusto. 🙂

      As I said in the review, I thought that this was one of your best books. If you are really going to write a sequel, I look forward with great anticipation to knowing more about Jesse Ray.

      Reply
    • Lily
      I wholeheartedly recommend this book. The characterizations were wonderful and there was a great deal of plot, which made my little heart go pit-a- pat. 🙂

      Reply
  • When I saw this I was like “Crap, I just went shopping this weekend, why didn’t I get this?” So right not 30 seconds ago and I went and snapped it up. Really looking forward to it. Up next perhaps.

    Oh and I didn’t really read the review because I want it to be a surprise but I’m sure it was great. 🙂

    Reply
    • Tam

      *wail* Why do I write these damn reviews if you refuse to read them until AFTER you have read the books? You are just like Eve!!!

      Anyway, you will have a great time with Web – I think he has possibilities of becoming a wonderful ongoing character.

      Reply
      • Sometimes I read it before, sometimes after. LOL But with this one I want it to be a surprise. Remember, I’m the one who reads the ending of the mystery first so I’m usually pretty good at dealing with spoilers but for ones I REALLY want to enjoy I like to keep the suspense. I also think sometimes when I read the reviews of “great” books I get freaked out and it can’t live up to the rep, so this way I can’t be let down. 🙂

        Reply
        • I, on the other hand, am one of the extremely spoiler adverse readers that Val wrote about. I never read reviews unless I’ve read the book first. 🙂

          Reply
        • Tam
          There are lots of surprises in the book and the character of Web will tug at your heartstrings, even though he used to be quite the man about town.

          >>I also think sometimes when I read the reviews of “great” books I get freaked out and it can’t live up to the rep, so this way I can’t be let down.< < No fear about being let down with this book, even Chris enjoyed it and she's tough to please. 🙂

          Reply
  • Great review Wave. I really like the sound of this one with interesting characters and humor – love that! I have no problem with limited or even no sex. I want a good story and believable characters – no “book” people please.

    Reply
    • TJ
      As I said in the review, I think this is one of Jordan’s best because of the characters. Not a lot of sex, and Web wasn’t happy about that, but he tried his darndest to get Jessy Ray to give it up. 🙂

      I think you will have a wonderful time living in Web’s mind which is a really scary place. Talk about great characterization!! I only wish I had more time with Jesse Ray. Please let me know how you enjoy the story after you read it.

      Reply
  • I love a good, dark plot, and JCP books have always provided that. I’ve found several m/m novels I liked that contained lots of sex, but I usually go for plot driven stories where the sex is secondary and necessary for the forwarding of the story. This sounds like a winner. Your wonderful review and high accolades places it on my TBR shelf.

    Reply
    • Hi Eden
      I really think this is one of Jordan’s best yet. You will fall in love with Web who stumbles through life, doing the best he can.

      With all these books that you are planning to buy (don’t think I haven’t noticed) 🙂 you will have to write a lot faster to be able to afford them.

      Reply
    • Hi Chris
      I really enjoyed this story although at first I was doubtful if a story about someone with a brain tumour would have any bright spots – I should have trusted Jordan. 🙂

      Reply

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