Sleepwalkers, by Tom Grieves
Tom Grieves has worked in television as a script editor, producer and executive producer. His work includes The Bill and Being Human This is however his debut novel. It’s a sharp psychological thriller, which was an original television script idea that couldn’t sell. The book seeks to explore the cited demons associated with the nanny state conspiracy issues, such as the excessive use of CCTV and the way we have become increasingly socialised by government to the point that we’re no longer aware of constant subliminal brainwashing.
The two main characters are Ben, an average adult individual who works as a mechanic, is married with a wife and two children and Toby a 15-year-old shy and insecure adolescent. Neither know each other, but have an intricate connection in their dreams. The odd thing about these violent and terrifying dreams are the scratches and bruises they wake up with the next day, which relate to the incidents in their dreams.
Toby in particular is having a tough time at school, is bullied, yet his parents seem to accept his troubles and misdemeanors without much of a reaction. Neither do they offer much explanation about his life and up bringing. Similarly Ben senses that sometimes these children aren’t his own and that there is something untoward going on.
The connection in their dreams allows Ben and Toby to start to interpret and reflect upon their lives more deeply. One of Toby’s teachers notices his scars and takes an interest in Toby that couldn’t be more timely. But matters come to a head for Ben when one morning he wakes to learn that a women from one of his violent dreams, has been found murdered on the news, it strikes an indelible cord. In a heated argument with his wife Carrie, she suddenly cries out ‘Help me, he knows.‘ In that moment, his wildest fears are confirmed…
There are a host of twists and turns and chinks of light as the mystery that surrounds these two characters starts to unfold in a hazy, yet tense manner. Curiosity and drive allows them to get closer to the truth, but it tests all their personal strength and traits and is tense and exhilarating along the way.
Whilst at the beginning of the book the hooks were a little loose and didn’t convey the extent of the complexity of the plot, so long as this doesn’t deter some readers, it should ease people into the characters and story well. Once it kicks in properly, it proves to be the intelligent type of story that genre psychological thriller readers seek. There is plenty of meat on the bones and the timing of the release of nuggets of information is particularly well-timed, to keep you gripped through the story to its denouement. Hopefully Grieves will pursue novel-writing further before deciding which form of writing he prefers. I anticipate he has others stories he could not persuade TV companies to produce that he will consider for a novel instead. Reader responses to this début book, will probably have a big influence on which direction he takes.