Author: Mark Capell
My Copy: Review Copy via Author
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Synopsis: "The trick is not to fear the shadows but to embrace them… Night-time has become a good friend," says Justin.
But for how long?
Twenty-five-year-old insomniac Justin Brooks opens an all-night café for something to do, to fill the long nights. But soon after opening, one of his customers is found murdered in a side street.
What Justin doesn't know is that his insomnia is connected to the murder.
Even before the murder, inexplicable things were starting to happen in Justin's life. But after it, life becomes very strange indeed...
.....His eyes stream when it rains outside..... Another café appears, out of the fog, out of nowhere..... Footsteps follow him everywhere..... The dead person talks to him, though it's not a ghost..... And a magician waits for him, perched on a high wire, high up in the night sky.....
Strange things indeed. But these strange things can't possibly have anything to do with the murder.
Nobody who visits Café Insomniac can ever look at the world in the same way again.
"I don't know what's real and what isn't -- and which is most dangerous."
I first came across Mark Capell when I won a giveaway for his book, Vows to Kill, over at LibraryThing earlier this year. I really enjoyed it and I couldn’t wait to read more of his work. When he asked if I’d review Café Insomniac I couldn’t say no! Capell’s Café Insomniac is an intricate mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Justin Brooks is looking forward to the next chapter in his life. Suffering from insomnia, he decides to open an all night café and serve people looking for a great cup of coffee. On opening night, he gets a visit by a man who tells him to call him should he need any help and Justin dismisses him from his mind. As the night progresses, he serves less than a handful of customers and keeps tabs on a woman who walks in and stays all night. The next morning, he finds out a café customer was murdered, but as the nights progress, he finds there’s no one to trust and events around him become more and more strange. Justin soon finds himself at the center of an investigation and when his family is threatened, he realizes he needs to tread carefully.
As for characterization, we get a good grasp of the characters and character development is strong. We spend the majority of our time with Justin and we get to experience firsthand how insomnia affects his life. It’s easy to sympathize with Justin and you can feel his struggle with insomnia. Capell introduces several secondary characters that are vital to the plot. We have Delilah who makes terrible coffee, but is a gifted musician and she’s there to help Justin run the café. Justin’s father and his sister also make an appearance and it’s easy to understand what the family dynamic is. Then there’s our victim and I won’t say the name because I don’t want to spoil the story because the plot does revolve somewhat around this person’s death. Finally, there’s the mysterious Vince Moore who a property investor who has a shady past.
Narration is first person via Justin’s perspective and it’s necessary for the reader to understand his struggle with insomnia. The writing is engaging and Capell is a solid storyteller. I really enjoyed how easy it was to imagine the scenes and everything taking place. Café Insomniac really comes to life and it’s a rare treat to find an author with that talent. I did come across a few Britishisms that might confuse a reader not familiar with British culture, but nothing that will prevent a reader from enjoying and understanding the plot. He does make a reference to the Kray Brothers, notorious twin brothers who ran an organized crime operation in the East End of London. The brothers for the most part aren’t widely known in the US, but have been referenced in a song by Jay-Z and Kanye. Anyway, I liked how Capell used the Moore brothers and fashioned them after the Kray brothers in way. It keeps the reader guessing as to the identity and what type of person Vince Moore is.
Readers are left with a few questions unanswered, but nothing that will prevent you from enjoying it. The ending is beautifully done and I can’t imagine it being any other way and it was a surprise! I apologize to my neighbors for yelling, “Come on now!” Like I said, it was a complete surprise that I wasn’t expecting. Also, it’s important to note that Café Insomniac takes place over the course of a week, but it feels longer than that. Part of has to do with the way Capell incorporates time and breaks it down according the day. If Justin felt the week of opening was a long one, you will too.
Mark Capell’s Café Insomniac will have you question what to believe: the facts in front of you or what your mind tells you.