...a dark, Hitchcockian novel ... Was Annalee a sleepwalking seducer of her neighbors’ husbands? Did one of them — or someone else — murder her? These are some of the many intriguing possibilities in Bohjalian’s atmospheric 18th novel ... Bohjalian immerses his drama in the murky world of sleepwalking and the science that studies it. Lest the story get too weighed down with dry, clinical-sounding references, the poetic Bohjalian opts for sexier phraseology, at times likening a sleepwalker to a vampire who seeks partners to satisfy lust in the middle of the night ... If you’re not yet intrigued, check your pulse, because Bohjalian’s only getting started. You’re going to be an expert on sleep sex by book’s end, and, trust me, you will not be able to stop thinking about it days after you finish reading this book. Like many of Bohjalian’s novels, this neo-New England gothic ends with a surprising and most satisfying twist. It was so deliciously dark that I reread The Sleepwalker to pick up on all the subtle clues this clever novelist dropped with poetically perfect precision throughout.
...a hard-to-put-down story that also mixes sex and a mystery in a polished package ... Bohjalian is a gifted writer; the mystery is not really about Annalee’s fate — it seems clear she’s dead. But the author weaves in hints, a red herring or two and a backstory that will leave readers with competing theories about who Annalee was and how that might have determined her fate ... Bohjalian hits all the creepy marks with thoughts of a man involved with both mother and daughter ... Bohjalian is on top of his already stellar game with The Sleepwalker, which may prove irresistible to some screenwriter, somewhere.
Bohjalian creates enough suspicion that even up until the last few pages we accuse nearly every character of being responsible for Annalee’s disappearance. Along the way, Bohjalian educates us about the scientific explanations for sleepwalking. At first they seem merely interesting. Then Bohjalian leads us into a darker topic, sexual behavior in sleep (SBS). At that point, we realize that by his offering the matter-of-fact scientific evidence behind sleep disorders, Bohjalian has been slowly conditioning us to willingly enter a somewhat alarming and deviant place ... The story moves swiftly, with only a couple of wrinkles that challenge our willingness to believe this fiction ... Eventually, Bohjalian reveals the family’s secrets. And because we want to keep them hidden, he succeeds in making us accomplices in a dark world we never knew existed.
Bohjalian’s newest novel, The Sleepwalker, is one of his most skillfully plotted ... The little-known, dark world of somnambulism, and its unpredictable impulses, assumes a greater active role as the story progresses, beyond being simply a likely factor in Annalee’s disappearance. This is masterfully advanced throughout by the separate journal-like entries, each entry taking the reader deeper into the nether realm of uncontrollable sleepwalking. Bohjalian tells an increasingly gripping tale layered with grave moral dilemmas for those who suffer somnambulistic episodes, ratcheting the tension as their behavior takes bizarre turns.
...both literary and compelling, a combination so rare I’m tempted to apply for federal intervention ... I hesitate to say more, because to know too much may spoil the fun of discovery. Rest assured the denouement is perfect. This is Bohjalian at his very best.
Chris Bohjalian is at the full power of his literary legerdemain in his newest book, The Sleepwalker ... Bohjalian teases and tantalizes the reader, alternating chapters with diary entries from a sleepsexer. But whose diary is it? ... The Sleepwalker is Bohjalian at his best: a creepily compelling topic and an illusionist’s skill at tightening the tension. This is a novel worth losing sleep over.
Calm and slow-paced, it is the kind of mystery that builds to a startling climax, the kind that makes the reader wonder how such a trick was pulled off ... The characters are compelling as well ... Bohjalian often centers his novels on social and psychological issues, and this is one behavioral problem he has clearly researched thoroughly. But very little is what it seems in this mystery, and even the most casual observation is worth keeping in mind. While Bohjalian skillfully crafts his puzzle, The Sleepwalker isn’t perfect. The first half moves quite slowly, as Lianna — who is often stoned — goes through the motions of caring for her sister and father, while dodging her own emotions ... But these are quibbles. Without giving anything away, it is safe to say that Bohjalian does a masterful job of planting false clues.