***This book was reviewed independently
Sleep, Savannah, Sleep, by best-selling Alistair Cross is one spooky read! Set in modern day California, this ghost story has quite the Gothic feel to it. The eerie factor is upped by the old Victorian house drowning in ivy that they call home!
Jason Crandall, recent widower, has moved to the sleepy little town of Shadow Springs with his two children, Brent and Amber. It is a chance to begin again, after the death of his wife, and their mother, though Brent is sorely displeased over the move. Not too long after they move in, Jason gets a client for his new massage business that gets him into serious trouble. Marlee Delgado’s husband takes offense that Jason touched his wife, and ends up threatening him. A customer after that, Savannah Sturgis, offers herself to him. Jason cuts the session short, sending her away.
It isn’t long after this that Savannah goes missing, and things get weird for Jason. He begins seeing and hearing things, and having intense dreams. Becoming convinced he is being haunted by Savannah, Jason sets out to find out where she is, and who killed her. But how do you go to the police and tell them you believe a missing girl is dead because you’ve had visions? That’s a surefire way to end up in the looney bin or prison. Jason does succeed in helping find Savannah’s body, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest a prime suspect. But even after the trial and sentencing, Savannah still haunts Jason. Then he begins to have visions he is convinced predict his own murder. Can he solve Savannah’s mystery, and keep his own life and sanity?
With psychological twists and turns, this book chilled me to the bone. It was more eerie than splattergore horror, which was appealing to me. A touch of the eerie, a helping of paranormal drama, yet at its heart lay the depravity that living humans can visit upon one another. To me, that is more terrifying than any spirit out there! Nowhere is this more evident than in how Savannah became how she was, and in how she died, but it can also be found with Crandall’s past, Delgado’s past, and in just how quick people were to turn against Jason.
Jason is a patient, patient man. If I had just lost my spouse, and had to deal with an arrogant ass of a teenager, son or no, I think I would surely lose it. Amber more than made up for Brent’s unpleasantness though. A decade younger than her big brother, she’s a real ray of sunshine. So were Dottie and her cats!
I found all of the characters well-drawn, and the story very engaging. My only qualm has to do with how quickly the trial progressed after the body is found. Having been on the waiting end of that game, I know how long it takes. It was years between my cousin’s murder, and the killer’s trial. Yet, Delgado was still showing evidence of his fight with Crandall at the time of the trial, meaning roughly less than two weeks passed. This did jolt me from the story a bit, but I found it easy enough to resuspend my disbelief. I have to do it all the time with CSI, which is a show I love. Yet… real forensics doesn’t work quite that way. I realise the timeline is necessary for the story, and it works, so it ended up all good for me.