Published 6 February 2020 by Polberg Press.
Marianne is 35 years old and works in IT. At the start of the book we learn that she lives in her childhood home in County Wicklow where she returned following the death of her beloved father some ten years ago. Marianne’s mother Hanne was murdered when she went to visit her parents in her home country of Denmark not long after Marianne’s birth. As she was only a tiny baby when her Mum died she doesn’t remember her, but she knows her Dad was devastated by her murder and has always felt that she’s never really been told the whole story about what happened. Some chance finds in the loft when she’s cleaning out her Dad’s stuff put Marianne on a path of investigation that reminds her of her previous pilgrimage to Denmark and the doorstep of the grandparents who had never once gotten in touch to see how she is doing and refused to see her when she knocked on their door…
In the present day, a blizzard moves in to Marianne’ isolated home and snowy conditions are forecast for the next few days, with people being told to stay at home unless they desperately need to travel. Marianne’s is quite perturbed to find footprints under her bedroom window and her imagination understandably goes into overdrive. Has someone been watching her? Then things take a more sinister turn, with various items being left for her to find, but who is behind this? Are local kids playing a prank or is it something more? The local police don’t seem to be that interested and Marianne gets jumpier with every day that passes.
As an amateur Private Investigator, Marianne likes nothing more than hitting her favourite forums and joining in with more amateur sleuths online, trying to solve old crimes and murder cases, so she takes to the Internet to see if they can help her figure out what’s happening. There’s a serial killer known as the Blackwood Strangler’ still uncaptured and events recorded prior to previous murders and what’s happening at Marianne’s house are unnervingly similar. As she delves deeper into her mother’s murder, Marianne begins to wonder if the Blackwood Strangler could be linked to her mother’s case – and if so what does he want with her? A trip back to Denmark for a final shot at finding out the truth opens old wounds and answers some questions that Marianne didn’t even realise she was asking.
The Sleeper Lies is multi-layered – there are a number of different stories going on at once with Marianne at the centre of them all: Hanne’s murder, the footprints in Marianne’s garden and the various relationships with the people in her life – her oldest friend Linda, the internet forum group, the lad next door Jamie and his curmudgeonly old dad Alan, and her ex-husband Ray. This builds an intriguing little group of people who could have an axe to grind with Marianne, but what’s the link between them all? And is she really in danger?
Quite slow to get off the ground, The Sleeper Lies gathers momentum as it reaches the halfway point and from there things really start to take off. Marianne is annoying sometimes such as when she decides to go out to change a bulb in the dead of night, with darkness all around and movement in the bushes. I mean REALLY? But it’s tense – really tense and I found myself second guessing every single character in the book and cringing when Marianne was sharing information with them just in case they were the perpetrator all along. With all the clues being dropped I had some ideas that were on the right track, but I didn’t actually guess ‘whodunnit’, and didn’t feel cheated when I found out what the conclusion was.
A great piece of writing, Andrea Mara has cleverly intertwined some quite complex stories, and while it’s can be a skill to be able to keep up with what’s happening in such a novel, it’s a worthwhile investment. A really exciting and tense read.
Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from BookSirens and this is my unbiased review.