Author: John Daly
My Copy: Review Copy via Premier Virtual Author Book Tours
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Synopsis: There are times when the truth invites evil, and there are times when the truth can get you killed. Few residents in the secluded mountain-town of Winston, Colorado, have kind words to say about local troublemaker Sean Coleman. He's a bully, a drunk, and a crime-show addicted armchair detective with an overactive imagination. After a night of poor judgment, Sean finds himself the sole witness to the unusual suicide of a mysterious stranger. With the body whisked away in the chilling rapids of a raging river, no one believes Sean's account. When his claim is met with doubt and mockery from the people of Winston, Sean embarks on a far-reaching crusade that takes him across the country in search of the dead man's identity and personal vindication. He hopes to find redemption and the truth---but sometimes the truth is better left unknown.
Every small town has their black sheep and for Winston, Colorado, that’s Sean Coleman. He’s also a bully and spends his time drinking the night away. Sean use to dream of career in law enforcement and resents the fact he’s a plain old security officer. After a heavy night of drinking he finds himself near the river and notices a man on the bridge. He realizes the stranger is attempting to commit suicide and as he proceeds to stop the man he finds himself slowed down due to the terrain and his own personal health. Arriving too late he does the next best thing and that’s to notify the authorities, unfortunately no one believes him. Sean has a history of reporting suspicious behavior that turns out to have a reasonable explanation and therefore he’s Winston’s “boy who cried wolf.” Wanting to prove everyone wrong and finally earn some respect, he embarks on his own investigation. Little does he know his life is about to be turned upside down and he’s opening a can of worms that even Winston’s chief of police won’t be able to get out of.
John Daly’s From a Dead Sleep is an engaging page turner with likable characters. Our unlikely hero, Sean is a bit difficult to like at first. He’s abrasive and demanding especially when he wants to be taken seriously. As the story develops, we find out he can be kind in his own way. For example, Toby is a local boy who happens to be autistic and idolizes him. Sean treats him the same way he treats everybody and that’s why Toby gravitates towards him, but at the same time they are an odd couple with their strange friendship. If Sean didn’t respect Toby he wouldn’t have let him take care of his dog, Rocco. We also have Sean’s brother-in-law, Gary, who happens to be Winston’s chief of police. Gary gave up a lucrative police career in Chicago to move to Winston with his wife Diana when her mother suffered a stroke. He resents Sean because he always has to listen to his outlandish theories and thinks of him as a loser. Then we have Lisa Kimble, a lonely wife who is waiting for her husband, Kyle, to join her on vacation. These three are our main characters and we have a several secondary characters that play a vital role.
Narrative is primarily third person with an exception and that’s Kyle’s narrative. His is first person and at first I questioned why Daly would use this format, but then I remembered Kyle’s deaf. Even if he wasn’t I think first person helps the reader understand what his motives are. It was very effective and the shift in narrative does not distract the reader. Daly also makes it clear when Kyle’s narrative occurs so there’s no misunderstanding as you read. As I stated the writing is engaging and even though the story takes place in two different states you’re aware of the location of the action even though it’s easy to forget Lisa’s location especially at the beginning.
As for the overall mystery, I honestly was caught unaware! Daly delivers a twist and the famous words of Sir Walter Scott will be playing in the background, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive!” Kyle is involved in some illegal activity and even though I want to discuss it fully, I can’t because I’m afraid of revealing a major spoiler. Let’s just say Kyle isn’t who claims to be and when you find out the identity of the victim, you’ll be shocked. You’ll also find out why the victim committed suicide and the entire back story is interesting. You’re heart will ache for Lisa when you realize how much she didn’t know. You might wonder if Sean gets his redemption and yes he does. He has to go through a series of trials in order to get it and learn from some mistakes, but in the end our unlikely hero saves the girl and solves the case.
If you’re looking for a good mystery or are trying to break out of a reading slump, I highly recommend John Daly’s From a Dead Sleep. Just a bit of warning: don’t start this right before you go to bed, you won’t be able to put it down.